Deforestation rates jump in Uganda and Burundi, fall in Rwanda
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
January 25, 2006
Tropical deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Uganda and Burundi, while declining significantly in Rwanda according to mongabay.com's analysis of data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Uganda's annual deforestation rate has climbed 21 percent since the end of the 1990s. The country lost an average of 86,400 hectares of forest—or 2.1 percent of its forest cover—per year between 2000 and 2005. On a generational time scale, Uganda lost 26.3 percent of its forest cover (1.3 million hectares) between 1990 and 2005. Like Burundi, land-clearing in Uganda results mostly from subsistence farming and cutting for fuelwood. This forest loss is directly threatening some of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in Africa: Uganda is home to more than 5,000 plant species, 345 species of mammals, and types of 1,015 birds.
On a more positive note, forest areas in Rwanda have expanded dramatically since the end of the brutal civil war in the mid-1990s. The national reforestation effort increased overall forest cover by an average of 8 percent per year between 2000 and 2005. While the country has virtually no old growth forest remaining, Rwanda is still home to its world famous population of mountain gorillas. These gorillas are an important reason why tourists are again returning to the country.