The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has joined the drive to save part of Mabira forest reserve by planting trees to save the depleted parts.
Headed by Maj Gen Denis Asiimwe, the commandant of the college, the soldiers have planted about 2,000 seedlings of indigenous trees, covering about five acres near Mabira Police Station on the Jinja- Kampala highway.
Gen Asiimwe called upon other institution to join the campaign to save Mabira saying it is a responsibility of every Ugandan to ensure that Central Mabira and other depleted forests are protected.
The soldiers planted over 2, 000 seedlings of indigeneous trees covering over five acres near MAbira Police Station on Jinja- KAmpla road. The seedlings planted include Maesopsis Emini (Musizzi), Cordia Abyssinica, Aribizia Zygia, and Prunus Africana
Gen Asiimwe said it’s so sad that the forest is being destroyed by selfish individuals and there are no concerted efforts to save it.
“This forest is about 30,000 hectares but most of this is just in words, the actual forest cover is very less and the remaining part will be no more if nothing is done,” he said.
The biggest challenge we are faced with currently is encroachment on the forest land, especially on the boundaries. Some encroachers stay nearby and sneak into the forest when our team is patrolling the other part of the forest,” he said.
Mabira forest is home to rivers that pour water into Lake Victoria and River Nile.
Because of its rich natural flora and fauna, many tourists frequent it.
Available records show that Mabira Central Forest Reserve sits on 29,964 hectares on Kampala-Jinj highway. However, part of it has been degraded by illegal loggers and cultivators who have cut trees for timber, charcoal burning and farming.
The general mentioned that this is one of the biggest challenge so far. “The biggest challenge we are faced with currently is encroachment on the forest land, especially on the boundaries. Some encroachers stay nearby and sneak into the forest when our team is patrolling the other part of the forest,” he said
The efforts by UPDF to save Mabira comes in handy as an extra effort to UWA and NFA to save reserved areas. In 2019, National Forestry Authority (NFA) recovered 40 hectares (124 acres) of Mabira forest that Mehta Group of Companies, the parent company of Sugar Corporation of Uganda Ltd (Scoul ), had turned into a sugar plantation.
It reportedly took NFA three years in back-and-forth meetings with the sugar maker to reclaim the land, which since been replanted with indigenous trees.