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Plan to sacrifice forest for sugar puts economy before ecosphere in Uganda

Faced by an acute sugar shortage, Uganda's president wants to transform protected forestland into a sugarcane plantation

Source:  Copyright 2011, Guardian
Date:  August 22, 2011
Original URL: Status ONLINE

As Uganda grapples with an acute shortage of sugar that has caused prices to more than double in a year, President Yoweri Museveni has deemed the timing perfect to resurrect his plan to convert a quarter of a major natural forest into a sugarcane plantation.

Underlying Museveni's plan is an obvious conflict of economic and environmental imperatives. Environmental authorities say that Uganda, with the world's third-fastest growing population, loses 2% of its forest cover annually; 10% of this vanishes from protected areas like Mabira, thanks to logging and human settlement. The National Forestry Authority (NFA) highlights warnings by some experts that, at the current rate, the country could have no forests by 2050.

But Museveni last week told local leaders that the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), owned by the Mehta family, would be given about 7,100 hectares of the 30,000-hectare Mabira forest to expand its cane plantations. The move, which has ...

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