The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Forest Authority (NFA) have launched the Uganda Natural Resource Information System (NARIS) designed to monitor and mediate deforestation throughout Uganda and protect the country’s forests and biodiversity.
The system is accessible to government bodies, the private sector and other key stakeholders in the forestry and environmental sectors, serving to forecast future trends in forest cover, generate support for prevention and mitigation of deforestation.
“The Uganda Natural Resource Information System (NARIS) is very timely as it will not only help our field team to get real-time data on the state of forests, but it can also be used to monitor other parameters like people movements and their activities,” said NPA executive director Tom Okello.
Forests are home to over 80% of all terrestrial wild fauna and flora in Uganda, while supplying 90% of Uganda’s energy needs, generating 61% of the country’s tourism income, and providing jobs for around 1 million people.
Forests also provide vital ecosystems services and resources essential to social and economic development yet rapid population growth, demand for agricultural land and infrastructure development, as well as demand for forest products, are putting great strain on Uganda’s forests.
According to the ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda’s forest cover has reduced from 24% in 1990 to 12.4% in 2017. If deforestation continues at the present rate, Uganda risks losing its forests by the year 2033.
“Uganda’s environmental, economic and social wellbeing are tightly bound to the benefits that healthy forests provide. Deforestation has the potential to threaten this fine balance through exacerbating climate change and reducing biodiversity, and if deforestation is not addressed the impacts have potential to stall or even reverse Uganda’s development trajectory,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Elsie Attafuah.