Description of plantation resources
Uganda's economy has grown at a high rate for the last several years. This has had some impact on the forestry sector, e.g. a building boom with increased production of forest products like sawn timber and fuelwood for industrial utilisation.
Ninety percent of energy demand is supplied by forests. Besides, the growth of urban population will increase the consumption of forest products and the rate of change of forest cover into agricultural land. Uncontrolled expansion of agricultural land may lead to a problem in the supply of forest products. Thus, control of the rate of conversion of forest to agriculture and better forest management are both needed.
There are a variety of plantations with different purposes, such as aesthetic, protection, multipurpose or wood production. Plantations are considered to be important elements in nature conservation. There are both public and private plantations (DMLWE, 1998 and Kamugisha, 1994).
Development of forest plantations
The first plantation was started in 1908 using indigenous species, Markhamia platycalyx, Melicea excelsa and Entandrophragma spp. Plantations of exotic coniferous species were started in 1940 to meet the future demand for timber.
Wood production plantations were established at an accelerated rate after 1948 with emphasis on tropical Pinus spp. and Cupressus spp. Planting reached a peak in the early 1970s and then came to a standstill in 1978. Meanwhile, the private sector established non-industrial plantations for products such as fuelwood and poles. As a result, plantations are now very important for the supply of both industrial and non-industrial wood. Moreover, they are a very important element in reducing the pressure on fragile natural forests (Anon., 1995 and Kamugisha, 1994).
Coniferous species and Eucalyptus spp. each comprise about 50 percent of the plantation area. Cupressus spp. and Pinus spp. are planted for timber and also reduce pressure on the natural forests. One third of the coniferous plantations are Cupressus spp. and the rest are Pinus spp. Eucalyptus spp. are planted for the production of transmission poles, building construction timbers and fuelwood. Fuelwood is the most important product, both for domestic energy as well as for some agricultural uses such as tobacco curing or tea production (Anon., 1995 and MNRFD, 1994).
The Forest Department has encouraged small-scale tree farmers to establish non-industrial plantations for poles and fuelwood in peri-urban forests. The Forest Department itself has not established many plantations. Projection into the future shows that demand for forest products will continue to increase (DMLWE, 1998 and Kamugisha, 1994).
Plantations face some constraints such as lack of appropriate silvicultural treatment due to scarse funding. Some pine stands are of poor quality. Besides, suitable species for specific sites have not always been identified. (Anon., 1995)
Anon. 1995. Forestry in Uganda. In Tenth Session of African Forestry and Wildlife Commission. Sanbonani, South Africa, 22 November - 1st December. Kampala, Ministry of Natural Resources, the Forest Department.
DMLWE. 1998. Country Contribution. In Workshop on data collection and analysis for sustainable forest management in ACP countries. Nakuru, Kenya, 12-16 October 1998 EC-FAO partnership programme (1998-2000), project GCP/INT/679/EC. Kampala, Ministry of Lands Water and Environment.
MU. 1994. In Kamugisha, R.J, (ed.) Seminar on Integrated Forest Management and Sectoral Development in Uganda. Kampala 14-25 March 1994. Kampala, University of Makerere.
MNRFD. 1994. The National Forestry Development Programme 1995-2002. Kampala, Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Department.