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The aim of this out look study is not to predict the future but to develop future scenarios of the forestry sector in Uganda based on the analysis of the driving forces and trends to the year 2020. In Uganda increasing pressures on the forest resources is evident, however, there are efforts by government through policy reform and institutional changes to reverse this trend. The outlook of the forestry sector in 2020 will therefore largely depend on whether or not these efforts by government and non-governmental organizations are well implemented to have a positive impact. Due to the fact that there is inadequate data on forestry, it has not been possible to come out with quantitative analysis of the sector in 2020. The following is an overview of the forestry sector in 2020.

State of the Natural State Owned Forest Estate & Conservation of Biodiversity

Currently this is only 30% of the forestland in Uganda or about 1.5 million hectares or 7% of the total land area. With deforestation estimated at 1% per annum, this area may be reduced to about 1.2 million hectares in 2020. Since protection of these forests has been increased it is not likely that deforestation will be more than this. It has already been estimated that encroachment has been reduced to less than 2% per annum (NEMA, 1998).

State owned natural forests will be better managed and stoked.

The contribution of state owned natural forests to wood production will decrease while their contribution to ecotourism and services will increase. This is because the emphasis is now on protection of biodiversity rather than on the productive functions as was originally the case.

Influencing factors: Increased protection through policy and institutional changes. Global initiatives that support biodiversity conservation, the growth of ecotourism, improved conflict management by NGOs.


State of the Natural Forests on Private Land

Currently this is about 70% of the forestland in the country or about 3.5 million hectares or 17% of the total land area. This is where most of the deforestation will take place. The demand for timber has been accelerating at a rate of 1% higher than the population growth (2.9%)() that is at about 4% if this is interpreted to reflect the rate of deforestation, then in 2020 the natural private forest will be reduced to less than 700,000 hectares. This scenario could be worse since the figure does not take into account the rate of forestland conversion into agricultural land and the increased demand for biomass fuels.

The above scenario is assuming that the proposed forest policy, the PEAP, the PAM and other related policies and plans are NOT properly implemented. It also assumes that a favourable land policy is not in place as is currently the situation.

Influencing factors: rapid population growth, rapid urbanization, rapid growth of building construction, accelerating demand for timber, wood fuel and agricultural land, lack of favourable land policy. Lack of wood substitutes.


State of Plantation Forests

Currently forest plantations only cover 0.2% of all forest land in the country or about 34,000 hectares. About 65% of this is government owned while the rest is privately or customarily owned.

Most of the state owned plantations are in a very poor state. There has been little planting. Within the next 5 to 10 years all the existing stock will have been exhausted.

The area under forest plantations may increase if the proposed privatisation of forest plantations is encouraged with appropriate incentives.

There will be a large deficit of saw logs as most trees if planted at all will still be very young. Industrial planting was last done in some cases as far back as 1975.

Influencing factors: lack of private sector involvement in establishment and management of forest plantations. Poor management of existing plantations. Lack of incentives for the private sector to invest in forestry. Abundance of trees outside forest reserves which will provide the bulk of timber and poles in the country.

Reversing the trend: The proposed forest policy seeks to promote productive forestry plantation businesses and urban forestry. If well implemented the trend could be reversed.


State of Trees Outside Forests

Area under TOF is expected to increase. From 1989 to 1998 it increased from 23% to 28% (Kaboggoza et al, 1998). Farm forestry is traditionally practiced in some areas. PAM is also to actively promote it. NGO have been focusing on on-farm tree planting for the last decade.

Increased contribution of TOF to production of wood fuel and timber as well as services such as soil erosion control and rehabilitation of marginal lands.

Influencing factors: Policy and institutional changes such as the PMA. NGO efforts. Lack of accessibility to gazetted forest reserves. Increasing demand for forest products and services due to increasing population and economic growth.


State of Non Wood Forest Products

In Uganda about 80% of the population depends on traditional plant medicines. There is no indication that this trend is to reverse. It is likely that this situation will remain for the next 20 years partly because it is difficult to change people’s behaviour.

Commercialisation of some NWFP will be more prominent in 2020. Some of the more promising NWFP are ecotourism, honey, mushrooms, shea butter, gums/resins, rattan, medicinal plants, wild foods and handcrafts.

It is expected that with increasing economic growth some NWFP will be less in use in preference for modern alternatives. Most NWFP are associated with traditional use and poverty. Their use is at household level and therefore outside the established marketing system. This makes it difficult to record and plan for.

Influencing factors: The commercialisation of NWFP will be promoted by the uniqueness of their nature and the liberalization of trade.


State of Wood Demand and Supply Situation

From 1988 to 1999, wood production increased by 1% faster than the population growth implying an over exploitation of certain forest areas (Claus-Michael Falkenberg et al, 2000).

The production index for timber has steadily increased from 58 in 1990 to 600.5 in 1997. There is no possibility that the demand for forest products and services will be significantly reduced in the short to medium term.

The rate of wood biomass demand is 3% per annum. The rate of charcoal demand is 6% per annum. While some districts have a biomass fuel surplus others have a deficit. Overall the picture is that Uganda has a surplus of biomass fuel. At this rapid rate of demand, by 2020 Uganda will have a deficit

If the demand and supply equation was balanced in 1995 as estimated by ESD 1995 at 28.6 million cubic meters solid in 1995, then in the year 2020, the demand will be at more than 50 million cubic meters solid assuming a rate of 3% per annum.

Influencing factors: Population growth, rapid rate of urbanization, lack of affordable alternatives, lack of affordable improved stoves.

Table 1: Effect of Agricultural Expansion on Forest Vegetation Extrapolated to 2020

Forest Vegetation

Area 93/94 (ha)

Area 1998 (ha)

Area 2006 (ha)





Tropical High Forests (fully stocked)




Tropical High Forests (degraded)








Source: Adopted from State of Environment Report 1996/98 (NEMA, 2000)

Important Trends Concerning Non Wood Forest Products (NWFP)

Data on NWFP in Uganda is scanty, however, it is a well-known fact that they play a big role in sustaining the well being of most rural people in Uganda. There are no statistics in Uganda showing the economic contribution of NWFP to GDP. It is expected that the commercialisation of NWFP will lead to the commercial planting or domestication of trees for the purpose of producing commercial NWFP such as shear butter, gum resins, honey, silk and rattan. In Uganda today, shea butter is gaining importance. The shea butter project in Northern Uganda sells shea butter to cosmetic industries in America at USD$ 60 per kilo. More markets are being sought. Rattan cane has been over exploited in forest reserves in Western Uganda because of increased demand. The harvesting of gum arabic was halted due to political insecurity in Northern Uganda. Other NWFP gaining in importance in Uganda are the production of honey and ecotourism. There is also a Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Lab that carries research in medicinal aspects of plants. The centre was established in 1963 and is fully equipped with the most basic sophisticated equipment used in the extraction of medicines from plants.

The greatest hindrance to the growth of NWFP is poor marketing. The ecotourism potential of Uganda is unmatched but largely unexploited. However, with increased political security and development of infrastructure, ecotourism may be an important source of revenue for the country in the next 20 years. Eco-tourism if well managed and marketed, could have high returns with little strain on the environment. Herbal medicines are gaining importance worldwide and it is expected that our forests will in future be important sources for international markets. At the moment the extraction of herbal medicines for international markets has often led to destruction of certain plant species such as Prunus africans. By 2020, we may see increased management of forests for NWFP.


Important Trends Concerning Conservation of Biodiversity

This is expected to increase due to increased good will from the international community who are willing to fund their conservation due to their cross border environmental functions. The Uganda Environmental Conservation Trust (Ecotrust), a body established to seek funding for the protection of Uganda’s environment, has started acquiring critical biomes for the purpose of protecting them from degradation and promotion of ecotourism. Some land surrounding the Rwenzori National Park has already been acquired with funding from World Wild Fund (WWF).


Management Of National Parks

National parks in Uganda are areas of national importance for nature and landscape conservation and natural heritage preservation. They are the strictest forms of protected areas. They are areas established to preserve natural or scenic resources while allowing research and controlled tourism. Activities such as livestock management, charcoal burning, collection of firewood and medicines and making of traditional handicrafts may be granted by UWA on a special permit.


National Parks in Uganda: Importance and Trends

Uganda’s tourism evolves around its 10 national parks, 29 wildlife reserves, sanctuaries and communal wildlife areas covering some 56,000 km2 and about 14,900 km2 (Falkenberg et al, 2000). The tourism sector in Uganda is a main exchange earner, a revenue contributor, employment provider and precursor for investment. This sector has continued to register an average growth rate of more than 10% annually (1995-1997). This is higher than the global tourism growth rate. It is expected that in the year 2020, the area reserved for protection of nature and wild life will have increased. This is because there is likely hood that re-alignment of boundaries where encroachment has occurred will be carried out, especially in Mount Elgon and Queen Elizabeth National Parks. Furthermore all fishing villages in Queen Elizabeth Park will be formally designated as wild life sanctuaries under the wild life statute. There are plans to create new wild life reserves in East Madi, Kaiso-Tonya and Lipan. Collaborative management is proposed for these new wild life reserves. In line with this, areas that are no longer serving significant conservation functions or those heavily encroached will be excised from the existing protected areas (NEMA, 1999). NGO’s such as CARE and IUCN promote productive and sustainable land use in buffer zones as well as sustainable exploitation of non-wood forest products from forests.


Important Trends Concerning the State of Wood Demand/Supply Situation

Data on wood production and consumption is unreliable and outdated, however the general picture is that the demand for wood products is on the increase in Uganda to cater for the growing population. Much of the production is on private land, however, the majority of sawn timber production is from the forest reserves. Increase in living standards will lead to increase in charcoal consumption and this trend is already evident. Wood for charcoal production is the biggest wood consumer in the formal market with a share of over 55% (Claus-Michael Falkenberg et al, 2000). Generally, the wood fuel demand is growing faster than the demand for any other fuel. The table below shows the development of industrial production index for saw milling and timber.

Table 2. Development of industrial production index for saw milling and timber.










Index of industrial production< /FONT>










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