Written by Raedene Melin
The Mabira rainforest in Uganda is once again being threatened as the Ugandan government has revived its plan to deforest thousands of acres in order to grow sugarcane.
This plan was first developed in 2007 but it was eventually defeated as protests and pressure from the international community pushed the government to back down. Although the government stated that they would no longer consider their plan to destroy the Mabira rainforest, they have changed their minds, and this plan is once again in play.
The government’s revival of the deforestation has sparked protests, and once again the Ugandan people are fighting to protect their way of life. The Mabira rainforest is so much more than a rainforest. It not only harbors a fragile ecosystem and a diverse group of species including many birds, butterflies, trees and small mammals including the red-tailed monkey, but it is also the source of vital waterways that many Ugandans depend upon. With the government’s plan to deforest a large portion of the rainforest, vital rivers will go dry and will eventually lead to the disappearance of Lake Victoria. Such loss would devastate the country — the ecosystem would be destroyed and animals and human beings alike would have to find alternate sources of water which would further strain the country’s other resources.
All of this can be prevented. The government has other options. The King of Buganda and the Anglican Church of Mukono have offered to give enough land for the sugarcane plantation. However, the government has not shown any interest in any of these acceptable alternatives. The Ugandan government is clearly not thinking of the long-term consequences of this decision.
The people of Uganda have shown their passionate opposition to the project — several people were killed during the protests in 2007 as well as 2011. Deaths of human beings should be enough for a government to think twice before reviving an issue that is so clearly opposed.
Instead of thinking of ways to destroy a national treasure and a source of life, perhaps the government of Uganda should devote its time to adding to the valuable resources it already has, instead of trying to destroy them.
Please help fight for the Mabira rainforest and the people of Uganda. It can be as simple as signing the petition below. Help spread the word!
Photo from gsz via flickr