Matiba Forest Reserve

Matiba Forest Reserve

The Mabira Forest is a rainforest area covering about 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi) (30,000 hectares (74,000 acres)) in Uganda, located in Buikwe District, between Lugazi and Jinja. It has been protected as Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932. It is home for many endangered species like the primate Lophocebus ugandae.

The Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited, a jointly owned by the Government of Uganda and by the Mehta Group, planned to clear one-third of the Mabira Forest (around 70 square kilometres (27 sq mi), for sugarcane plantations, and had proposed to the government to de-gazette this land and transfer it to SCOUL. President Yoweri Museveni and his cabinet supported this plan.

The deforestation plans were disputed within Uganda. While environmentalists feared the loss of hundreds of endangered species, increased erosion, the damage of livelihoods of local people and negative impacts on water balance and regional climate, supporters hoped for the creation of jobs. A cabinet paper said the plan would generate 3,500 jobs and contribute 11.5 billion Ugandan shillings to the treasury.

The Kabaka (King) of Buganda opposed the deforestation plan and offered alternative land for sugarcane production. The Anglican church of Mukono also offered land.

President Museveni defended the deforestation plans, saying that he shall ”not be deterred by people who don't see where the future of Africa lies”. According to him, the Save Mabira activists ”don't understand that the future of all countries lies in processing”. In May 2007, the Ugandan environmental minister announced that the deforestation plans were suspended and that the government is trying to find alternative land for the Mehta Group.

Information based on