Two important nature reserves are located in West Uganda: Murchison and Queens National Park. There is an extremely high level of biodiversity in the Albertine Rift. It is the habitat for wildlife including elephants, chimpanzees and exotic bird species such as the turaco. The expansion of agriculture, oil extraction and the development of related infrastructure pose the main threats to biodiversity.
The Ugandan government promotes oil exploitation in Lake Albert and plans to have an underground pipeline to Tanzania installed in the near future. Permanent heating is required in order to keep the viscous crude oil in a liquid form. This pipeline will consequently not be highly profitable, and there are also ecological objections to installing the pipeline. Any leaks could have disastrous effects for the entire Nile region.
Sprawling agriculture also constitutes a threat to the environment. The population of Uganda has doubled in twenty years. Forests have often had to make way for both agricultural fields and large-scale cane sugar and maize cultivation. Current agricultural practices in the country degrade the environment. Sugar is both a desirable food crop and in high demand as biodiesel.
IUCN NL has been working in Uganda for more than ten years and currently supports four civil society organisations in the country. They are calling on the government to stop oil exploitation or to extract oil only according to the highest ecological and social standards, including fair compensation for local communities. They are also appealing for sustainable land usage, especially in agriculture.
The operational space of civil society organisations is limited. Our partner organisations are nonetheless achieving successes: Bulldozers were ready to cut down a couple of thousands of hectares of forest reserve in 2017. Our partners brought legal action and were able to stop the deforestation for the time being. They also succeeded in negotiating that local communities be allowed to sustainably manage corridors between protected areas.