In Summary
  • Even though environmentalists have attempted to protest, they are dismissed because of lack of concrete data on the true value these ecosystem contribute to the economy.
  • In 2007, the President attempted to give out part of Mabira forest to Madhvani to grow sugarcane but after several demonstrations that were backed by an emergency ecosystem valuation report of the forest, Mabira forest was saved.
  • The country is facing the worst challenges of nature manifesting itself in form of prolonged droughts, destructive rains that occur throughout the year.

Nema worked with Parliament to formulate polices and guidelines for assessment and integration of ecosystem valuation in development planning.
It noted that there are some studies that have been undertaken to value the cost of an ecosystem such as Mabira forest when it was faced with threat of being given away to sugar investors, these studies were conducted in absence of guidelines from Nema, an institution mandated to oversee the management of environment. While in other instances, developments have taken place without any evaluation done save for Environmental Impact Assessments, Nema is mandated by the law to oversee the proper management of environment and has a duty to oversee all activities undertaken in the environment.

Uganda being heavily dependent on ecosystems services inform of food, raw materials, medicinal plants, among others, from which income is generated for livelihoods. In addition, Uganda’s economy heavily relies on ecosystem services with agriculture and forestry contributing more than 32 per cent of Uganda’s GDP while tourism contributes more than Shs7b in revenues to the economy. This is further backed by the more than 90 per cent of Ugandans directly generating their energy needs from environmental services, making it a key resource for supporting livelihoods.

Despite the huge contribution to the economy and citizens’ livelihoods, ecosystem services are not traded in the market and do not have monetary value attached to them, resulting into threats of degradation.

Economists, policy makers and developers are the primary drivers of the degradation as they present their arguments of the value that will be got from an ecosystem should development take place on it. For instance, arguments backed with statistics of how many jobs will be created, the number of infrastructures that will be constructed, amount of revenues that will be generated from taxes, are used. These are done without understanding the environmental costs which would be addressed if the ecosystems service value is ascertained before the projects are considered.

Uganda is currently in advanced stages of exploiting her 6.5 billion barrels of oil and gas in the Albertine graben, which is a biodiversity hotspot. With huge infrastructural developments taking place such as the planned oil refinery, central processing facility, pipelines, oil roads, airport, among others, these will pose serious threats to the ecosystems and their services such as River Nile, Bugoma forest, Murchison Falls park, Queen Elizabeth park, among others. To ensure sustainable development and conservation of sensitive ecosystems in the region, an ecosystem valuation assessment must be conducted alongside the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments to guide decisions on the kind of development taking place in specific ecosystems.

Uganda already generates huge revenues in tourism from the ecosystems that is being threatened by the oil industry, which has potential to generate huge environmental impacts if conservation efforts are not adequately handled.
Uganda is rapidly expanding several infrastructure that is resulting into the rapid degradation of environmental services. For instance, forest cover is being converted for sugarcane growing across several regions.

Even though environmentalists have attempted to protest the above, they are dismissed because of lack of concrete data on the true value these ecosystem contribute to the economy. In 2007, the President attempted to give out part of Mabira forest to Madhvani to grow sugarcane but after several demonstrations that were backed by an emergency ecosystem valuation report of the forest, Mabira forest was saved.
The country is facing the worst challenges of nature manifesting itself in form of prolonged droughts, destructive rains that occur throughout the year.