“…the company doesn’t care about killing animals, they only care about killing weeds.” (Senior woman, Mayuge district)
Despite engaging in forestry plantation operations in Uganda since 1996, Green Resources’ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was only officially approved by the National Environment Management Authority in 2008.[i] The EIS requires Green Resources to work according to a Forest Management Plan, as well as respecting a number of standards, including the Forest Stewardship Council’s Principles and Criteria; the Saw Log Production Grant Scheme plantation guidelines for Uganda; and the standard of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance and Forest Management Plan.[ii]
What are Green Resources additional obligations?
The approval of the EIS was also conditional upon a number of measures, including:
- minimizing plant and animal biodiversity loss;
- planting indigenous trees to maintain natural vegetation;
- maintaining the reserve in a natural state; and
- identifying and protecting native mature trees in the plantation areas.[iii]
Does Green Resources meet the standards?
Yet, according to several local environment officers, villagers, and journalists, the company is in violation of these conditions on a number of substantive issues, including, at times, encroaching on fragile ecosystems by planting trees and spraying chemicals within the buffer zone adjacent to Lake Victoria and other riparian zones. Such activities violate both the Forest Management Plan and the Project Design Document, which state the company has a requirement to maintain the natural forests, thickets and other bushes in close proximity to water bodies, including avoiding planting in buffer zones.[iv] The importance of maintaining these ecologically sensitive zones is especially critical given the changing land use associated with the establishment of forestry plantations in the first place from grass and shrub land to mostly exotic species—and backed by ecological survey reports which identify the importance of compliance with management and monitoring regimes.[v]
Use of heavy chemicals.
Villagers also described heavy chemical use as causing runoff into rivers and lakes, creating adverse downstream impacts, including killing vegetation and animals. In one village located inside the license area, locals linked the chemical use with the deaths of 32 goats and seven cattle in recent years.[vi] In a different village, people also described the death of livestock after grazing on contaminated land that had recently been cleared of indigenous vegetation and replanted. One villager lamented that “the company doesn’t care about killing animals, they only care about killing weeds.”[vii]
Despite these outcomes, a recent monitoring of company activities shows staff have been trained in appropriate chemical handling and use,[viii] suggesting an urgent need to investigate the effectiveness of Green Resources’ chemical use training, the extent of their chemical use and compliance with the existing regulations.
…”environmental shock”… (local environment officer, Mayuge district}
Monocultures and use of alien species.
There are also concerns raised related to Green Resources’ reliance on only a few varieties of non-native tree species (Pinus caribeae, Pinus oocarpa and Eucalyptus ssp.), planted in large monoculture stands. Local environment officers and villagers question the suitability of these species to site conditions (a requirement of the management plan)[ix], and raised concerns about the very small area dedicated to indigenous species (4% at Bukaleba and 1% at Kachung).[x] The company has been accused of clearing indigenous (and culturally significant) trees to make way for the monoculture stands—despite their protection being a condition for the project’s approval.[xi] Replacing biodiverse and resilient ecosystems with monoculture tree farms also destroys habitat for insects, birds, and other animals. One environment officer described the company’s approach in establishing plantations, referring to the cycle of planting and then clear-felling monoculture plantations as imposing “environmental shock.”[xii]
[i] The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Certificate of Approval of Environmental Impact Assessment. For Busoga Forestry Company Ltd., May 6, 2008.
[ii] UNFCCC/CCNUCC. Project Design Document Form For Afforestation and Reforestation Project Activities Op. Cit.; Green Resources, no date. revised Management Plan for Kachung Plantation Project 2010 – 2015.
[iii] The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Op. Cit.
[iv] Green Resources. Revised Management Plan for Kachung Plantation Project 2010 – 2015; UNFCCC/CCNUCC. Project Design Document Form For Afforestation and Reforestation Project Activities. Op. Cit.
[v] UNFCCC/CCNUCC. Monitoring Report Form. Kachung Forest Project. Op. Cit.
[vi] Focus group discussion, Mayuge district, June 20, 2012.
[vii] Senior woman, focus group discussion, Mayuge district, July 27, 2013.
[viii] UNFCCC/CCNUCC. Monitoring Report Form. Kachung Forest Project. Op. Cit.
[ix] Green Resources. Revised Management Plan for Kachung Plantation Project 2010 – 2015. Local environment officer, interview, Mayuge district, June 20, 2012.
[x] Green Resources. Company Report 2012.
[xi] The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Certificate of Approval of Environmental Impact Assessment. For Busoga Forestry Company Ltd., May 6, 2008.
[xii] Local environment officer, interview, Mayuge district, June 20, 2012.