Sugarcane plantation in Mabira Forest Reserve, Uganda


The Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) asked the Government of Uganda for an allocation of 7,100 hectares of Mabira Central Forest Reserve to expand its sugarcane production operations.

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Basic Data
NameSugarcane plantation in Mabira Forest Reserve, Uganda
ProvinceCentral region of Uganda
SiteMukono District
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific Commodities
Biological resources
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited presented a proposal to the Government of Uganda to expand its sugarcane production, a project that they report would save foreign exchange between USD 20-25 million each year.

The corporation planned to produce 1-12 MW of electricity cogenerated from bagasse, the residue of sugar cane after extraction.

They said that the project would employ 3,500 jobs; a new road network of 300km developed; and additional taxes paid by them to the government.

The corporation calculated net benefits of USD 3.6 million per year from sugarcane.

The sugar company pledged to participate in tree planting programmes in the areas unsuitable for sugarcane production.
Project Area (in hectares)7100
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesSugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) from India - owned by Mehta Group (India, Uganda)
Mehta Group from India
Relevant government actorsNational Forestry Authority , Uganda Wildlife Authority , Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, National Environment Management Authority- Uganda, Buganda Kingdom
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
European Union (EU)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNature Uganda, BirdLife International, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA, Uganda), National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE);, Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
The King of Buganda
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesBuganda Kingdom and other institutions had offered over 15,000 sq. miles of land elsewhere to save the forest. Uganda is utilizing only 48% of its arable land and the rest of 52% is either idle or underutilized.The investors should be encouraged to utilise this idle land instead of degrading natural forest reserves or national parks.

The sugar companies could improve or increase their sugar production without any forest give aways by employing better technology and more efficiency on existing land under sugar plantation.

The sugar producers could also alternatively work with outgrowers schemes which would give more families and households reliable income and support government strategy of poverty alleviation.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Even though the Ugandan Government withdrew the decision to degazette the forest in September 2007,

there are fears that the project could be revived due to the recent government claims that Mabira Forest is the only suitable land for sugarcane production.
Sources and Materials

Forest Act 1947 Cap 146;

Water Act 1997;

The National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003.

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995;


Nature Uganda website and poster on Mabira Forest; BirdLife International Online news.


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Nature Uganda
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Meta Information
ContributorSerah Munguti
Last update21/09/2014