British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once called Uganda the pearl of Africa. Despite decades of civil war and Idi Amin’s reign of terror, Uganda’s charms have been preserved to this day.
The country lies on the equator, but due to the altitude of the central high basin, the climate is pleasant with an average temperature of 23 degrees. Regionally there are strong differences, while in Kampala the thermometer often climbs above 30 °C, this is rare in Kabale, in the extreme southwest. There it can cool down to 3 °C at night.
According to areacodesexplorer, Uganda is home to a total of ten national parks and several nature reserves. Since 1994, the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (about half of the remaining world population of mountain gorillas live there) and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park with its unique landscape have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nature and environmental protection sometimes take place across borders.
Uganda was the pilot country for the monitoring of SDG target 6.6 for the protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems. As part of the project, a user-friendly digital system is being developed for the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment. In the future, other East African countries should also participate.
Uganda is part of the African Great grave breakage (Great Rift Valley), the Central African trench marks the boundary of the Western country. Along these tectonic fracture zones, volcanic mountains such as the Ruwenzori Mountains, which have long been known as “moon mountains” because of the fog-covered mountain peaks, and lakes such as the Albertsee and the Edwardsee formed. Already in ancient times there was speculation about whether the Nile originated here. The Magherita Peak (5149 m high), which is covered by an eternal blanket of snow, is the highest peak of Mount Stanley, the highest mountain in the Ruwenzori Mountains. The border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo runs across the summit. According to recent research, the glaciers arebe gone in 15 years. A unique flora occurs in the Ruwenzori Mountains at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 meters. Gigantism (giant growth of plants) is characterized and thus makes the mountains the goal of many expeditions.
Uganda is the most water-rich country in East Africa, about 1/5 of the country’s area consists of water. The Nile has one of its origins in Uganda, a source is at the exit of Lake Victoria near Jinja. The so-called Victoria Nile flows over the Owen Falls, through the Kyogasee and over the Murchison Falls into the Albertsee. The use of the Nile water was regulated in contracts 75 years ago. These are now to be renewed. Experts warn that without clear regulation, Africa threatens a war over water use in the future.
So far Uganda was considered to be poor in natural resources, apart from small copper deposits in Uganda’s west, hardly any valuable minerals were found. This changed significantly with the oil discoveries in the Lake Albert region near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The gold rush began in Karamoja but is currently spreading to other regions. While many people try to dig for the expensive metal themselves, the government is encouraging the settlement of investors for gold mining on a large scale.
Uganda still had good forest reserves until the middle of the last century. Almost half of the forest was felled during the Idi Amin’s dictatorship. Since then, the forest has been steadily declining, at the moment with a deforestation rate of around two percent a year and a remaining forest area of around seven percent. If deforestation continues like this, there will be no forest in Uganda in 40 years. Investors are very welcome in Uganda. However, they often need large areas of land to create plantations. It is not uncommon for this to mean the clearing of the few remaining rainforest areas, such as the Mabira forest in eastern Uganda or the rainforest on the islands of Lake Victoria. Sugar cane and oil palms are to be grown. But there is also protest in the country; In a demonstration in 2007 with more than 1000 participants against the deforestation of the forest, three people were killed. At that time, the deforestation of parts of the Mabira forest was prohibited, but in 2011 the President tried again to give a large part of the forest to the Indian Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL). Renewed protests prevented this, at least until now!
The landslides in the Mount Elgon Mountains with hundreds of deaths in March 2010 showed how fatal deforestation can be. In the mountain regions, mudslides occur again and again, with numerous deaths. In June 2012 three more villages were buried in the Bududa region in eastern Uganda, in June 2019 another 150 houses were destroyed, at least five people died, and further landslides in different regions of Uganda occurred in May 2020. The danger is not averted, according to the Ugandan National Park Authority, the mountains above the heavily populated area have cracks up to 1.5 m deep, which could cause further landslides in the event of heavy rain. Around 8,000 people are affected by the danger.
The mountain rainforest used to hold the earth’s crust. Due to the population pressure, especially in eastern Uganda, the farmers are now planting their crops higher and higher on the mountain. Now ten million trees are to be planted in and around Mount Elgon National Park, the project is funded by UNDP, the British and Welsh governments.
It has long been discussed that the destruction of ecosystems is linked to the transmission of diseases to humans. On the edge of the Kibale National Park, humans and primates are getting closer and closer. Now even the corona pandemic is further promoting deforestation, as many people no longer have a regular income.
As a positive example of nature conservation, Uganda placed twelve wetlands and the Ruwenzori Mountains under the protection of the Ramsar Convention from 2006 to 2009.