African Forest Under Threat From Sugar Cane Cultivation For Biofuel
Daniel Howden writes in the Independent (via CorpWatch):
Conservationists in Uganda are fighting a last-ditch battle to stop the destruction of a forest reserve by a sugar corporation friendly with the government.
The Mabira Forest Reserve, on the north shore of Lake Victoria, is home to 300 bird species as well as rare primates, and plays a vital role in the country’s eco-system, storing carbon and regulating rainfall. The Mehta sugar corporation wants the reserve carved up so they can expand sugar cane plantations for biofuel production.
Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan President, is attempting to push through legislation that would strip the forest of its protected status. This would flout a deal signed with the World Bank in 2001 under which the government received £180m to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Nile in return for guaranteeing the forest’s protection.
Mr Museveni said last week that handing the forest over for cane cultivation would create jobs and enable the sugar industry to compete in the region. He told a local newspaper that his government would not “be deterred by people who don’t see where the future of Africa lies”.