In December we launched a campaign to save the Kafuga Pocket Forest in Uganda. Thank you to all who have already signed our petition. But we urgently need more support – and we mean URGENTLY!
Protect the Mountain Gorilla…
One of the last refuges of the Mountain Gorilla, Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, is under threat from plans to clearfell ancient rain forest on the park’s perimeter to make way for tea plantations.
Tea growers, backed by members of the district local government, are planning to clear all 250 hectares of the Kafuga Pocket Forest Reserve on the southern fringes of the national park, one of the world’s greatest ecological treasures.
Please help us stop this before it’s too late and sign our petition calling on the Minister of Water and Environment in Uganda, the Hon. Professor Ephraim Kamuntu to protect the Kafuga Forest.
The Kafuga Forest is part of a vital buffer zone for the Bwindi National Park, listed by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site. The park supports 400 critically-endangered mountain gorillas; nearly half of the remaining total world population of 880. If the Kafuga Forest is cut down it will destroy a vital natural resource for local communities, who rely on the forest for food, medicine and clean water.
We urgently need your support to persuade the Ugandan government to intervene. With support from UK charity, International Tree Foundation (ITF), we have been working with local communities to raise 30,000 tree seedlings for planting out to restore and conserve the Kafuga Forest. Now these plans have had to be suspended…and if action is not taken soon the forest could be cleared in the next few months.
We can report today that local politicians and tea companies are increasingly inciting people to clear the forest to open up land for planting tea. Large numbers of tea seedlings have been raised, and the February rains – the peak season for planting – are fast approaching. Out of fear of forest clearance for tea growing, neighbouring farmers are starting to encroach into the forest to grab the land before someone else does so – given that the forest is not formally mapped.
Local radio stations have opened up the debate, and local community members are taking the opportunity to voice their concern. A district committee has been established to consider the competing needs of politicians, companies and the local community. We and other local groups are active in defence of the forest.
Local communities need sustainable economic development not deforestation. International Tree Foundation will support us in the year ahead not only to restore degraded parts of the Forest but also to help local community members to improve livelihoods through sustainable activities such as fruit production, beekeeping and agroforestry.
Yet there is a real risk that the forest could be lost through short-term decision making – and once it is gone it will be impossible to replace.
The decision should rightly be taken by the local community, but they need all the support you can give them to resist the pressure from the commercial lobby.
On 22nd January 2016 we plan to hand over the petition to the Minister of Water and Environment in Uganda, the Hon. Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, to save Kafuga Forest before it is too late.
Please help us by signing the petition today!