Time is running out for the Kafuga Forest.
Click here to donate and see details of the campaign run by our partner, Probiodiversity Conservationists in Uganda:
Why your help is urgently needed?
One of the last refuges of the mountain gorilla, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is under threat from plans to clear fell hundreds of hectares of adjacent rainforest for farming.
A group of more than 250 tea growers, backed by local government officials, has announced plans to clear the Kafuga Pocket Forest for tea plantations. Kafuga is part of a vital buffer zone on the fringes of the Impenetrable Forest intended to protect it from careless destruction by greedy individuals and ill-considered commercial development.
The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is home to 400 critically endangered mountain gorillas – almost half the remaining world population. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for being,
“A conservation frontline, an isolated forest of outstanding biological richness.”
The UNESCO listing makes special reference to the importance of the buffer zone to the south of Bwindi – three areas of ancient biologically rich forest of which Kafuga is the largest – and the need to fend off the threat of agricultural encroachment here.
That threat is now imminent and we need you to help stop it now.
Destroying Kafuga would put Bwindi and its gorillas at risk
Destroying Kafuga would not only wipe out the wildlife in this forest, but also deprive local people in one of the poorest areas of East Africa of a resource that currently provides them with food, medicine, and clean water. This in turn would increase the risk of illegal incursions into Bwindi, degrading the gorillas’ habitat and heightening the risk to them from human contact.
Jillian Miller, executive director of the Gorilla Organisation, warns,
“Because the area around the National Park is so densely populated, there is a lot of competition for resources – so the buffer zone is vital for the protection of the gorilla habitat.
“When conservation works well it is the people themselves who are the buffer zone. So if people can get the resources they need within the buffer zone rather than having to reach deep into the forest, the gorillas are left alone and it is a win-win situation.”
For the long-term survival of the gorillas, it is vitally important that they avoid human contact because of the risk of potentially lethal infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
Unchecked, illegal incursions into the reserve for timber, game and honey could also seriously degrade the gorillas’ habitat.
As well as gorillas, the Bwindi ecosystem also supports large populations of elephant, antelope, chimpanzee, giant forest hog, African swallowtail butterfly and no less than 347 bird species.
Although Kafuga itself no longer has any gorillas, it too is home to a wide range of plants and animals including afromontane trees, chimpanzee, and rare birds.
All this will be lost if we don’t act now!
Tree felling could begin at any time. Indeed some trees were cleared in the forest earlier this month before local community members and officials intervened to arrest the culprits.
“We are prepared for people to start clearing the forest at any time,”
PROBICOU’s director, Robert Turnwesigye Baganda told us. “Some of the tea nursery owners have already started buying axes and pangas ready to start cutting the trees down.”
What your donation will do?
Your donation will fund PROBICOU’s campaign to stop this happening – building a coalition between the community, local government and supportive agencies like the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Forest Authority to map the forest and to protect it permanently as a community forest.
It will also help PROBICOU start to plant out the 30,000 tree seedlings that they raised, with ITF’s support, in 2015. Plans to plant these and sustain the Kafuga have had to be suspended whilst the tea growing threat is contained, but the moment that battle is won, we are ready to plant more trees and ensure that the forest continues to grow.