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Deforestation rates jump in Uganda and Burundi, fall in Rwanda

Deforestation rates jump in Uganda and Burundi, fall in Rwanda

Deforestation rates jump in Uganda and Burundi, fall in Rwanda
Rhett A. Butler,
January 25, 2006

Tropical deforestation rates have skyrocketed in Uganda and Burundi, while declining significantly in Rwanda according to’s analysis of data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In Burundi, rates of forest clearing have risen by almost 48 percent since the close of the 1990s. In total, Burundi lost 137,000 hectares—or 47 percent of its forest cover—between 1990 and 2005. Today only some 152,000 hectares remain in the country—none of which is considered intact forest. As a result of this forest loss, gorillas and elephants are extinct in Burundi. Uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuelwood coupled with agricultural clearing and livestock grazing are the main causes for the nearly complete deforestation of the country

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.

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