The once Uganda’s highly green covered area, Kalangala is slowly losing its beautiful natural green cover to palm tree growing putting the area in roaming environmental dangers.
Kalangala made up of 85 islands has lost her natural forest to palm tree growing and thousands of acres of land have been turned into palm tree plantations with prospects of transforming people from fishing and peasant agriculture to a better economic and social life of these beautiful Kalangala people.
The natural resources officer for Kalangala district, Saawo Harriet warns that the growing pressure put on the remaining forest reserves on the island by the communities is scaring their existence and duties on the island.
The palm oil project which started in 2004 saw the introduction of massive growing of palm trees to support the production cooking oil by BIDCO .
Speaking during a field visit by EMLI to assess the palm oil project impact towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, Harriet reveals that, communities have now resorted to cutting down trees for timber, firewood, growing crops, and other illegal activities which are putting the life of the central forest reserve on Bugala island in Kalangala district at risk.
Harriet adds that the communities can hardly listen to what the experts are saying in regards to the continued degradation of the remaining central forest reserves on the islands.
Willy Katai Ssalongo and Babirye Deborah all palm tree farmers on Bugala island in Kalangala district confirm that they exchanged their land for palm tree growing which left them almost with no land to grow food as well as practice other economic activities and this has forced them to start using some of the remaining forest land to earn a living.
However, plans are under way to start distributing tree seedlings to interested communities for planting as a way of trying to restore the lost natural forest cover on the island. Says the local government leaders on the island.
The re-greening project championed by the local government natural resources department will be starting next year with Bugala Island and later roll out to other islands which have experienced massive tree cutting.
Re-greening of Kalangala has also been complimented by solar power projects which have seen thousands of houses connected to solar power as an avenue to avert tree cutting for energy on the island.
Most of the above projects supported by development partners, government and BIDCO are aimed at saving the environment in Kalangala as well as transforming people’s lives.
However, Over 1800 people are engaged in palm tree growing on Bugala in Kalangala district.