Approximately 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil have been discovered in the Albertine Graben, the basin of Lake Albert, on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Extraction would take place at two oil fields – the Kingfisher field, operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd (CNOOC), and the Tilenga field, operated by Total South Africa – and be partly refined in Uganda.
The 1,445-kilometer pipeline will transport crude oil south from Uganda for export at the Port of Tanga in Tanzania. The EACOP pipeline will carry 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day (10.9 million metric tons per year) at ‘plateau production’ according to the project’s website.
According to calculations based on the specific fuel density of the EACOP blend, the emissions from the burning of this fuel would be at least 34.3 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) per year. These emissions will dwarf the current annual emissions of its two host countries combined, and will in fact be roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions of Denmark.
In addition to significantly contributing to the climate crisis, the project poses serious environmental and social risks to protected wildlife areas, water sources and communities throughout Uganda and Tanzania.
Extraction at the oil fields in Albertine Graben will jeopardize the Murchison Falls National Park, which is important for tourism as Uganda’s second most visited national park. In addition, the mangroves at the coast of Tanzania which the pipeline puts at risk support approximately 150,000 people, in addition to the ecological services they provide. The 300 permanent jobs the pipeline is expected to create will not compensate for the loss of jobs in agriculture, tourism and mangroves.
Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, with 411 sq km or 41.144 hectares of protected area, is the largest remaining block of natural tropical forest along the Albertine Rift Valley between Budongo and Semliki, therefore playing an enormous role in preserving wildlife migratory corridors.
Bugoma is home to about 500 chimpanzees (10% of the Ugandan chimp population), making the forest a chimpanzee sanctuary. Among other primates, Bugoma hosts a population of Ugandan mangabeys, endemic to only this forest therefore unique treasure. The bird list is of 221 species recorded.
With an ever-growing deforestation rate in Uganda that caused the loss of 63% of forested cover in only 3 decades, therefore contributing to less carbon absorption and contributing to climate change, the life of people is actually been more and more endangered with the degradation of habitats, reduction of water sources, reduction of fertility. It is paramount for the health of all the population to maintain the existing forest cover.
In the last few years, Bugoma Forest survival has faced various threats, the largest of which is the development of sugar cane plantations with the opening of Hoima Sugar Works in 2016, located next to the natural forest, a crop project which does not match at all with the nature of the forest habitat.
Why the Campaign
- The conservation of Bugoma Forest in all its integrity is paramount for the livelihood of the local farmers communities, who are generally in support of the conservation. Destruction and change in the use of the habitat will affect the climate, the water sources, the whole economy of the area, while in particular sugar cane will worsen the remaining existence of natural habitat and its wildlife with more conflicts between humans and wildlife, as well as impoverishing the soil and impoverishing the local communities.
- The current development and investments in eco-tourism activities and tourist accommodation (Bugoma Jungle Lodge, new lodge in Mwera) in Bugoma Forest will be compromised by the destruction of the habitat and the poor image of Bugoma forest resulting from lack of rule of law. Investors in eco-tourism and conservation have much to complain about.
- The chimpanzee and Ugandan mangabeys population of Bugoma Forest will be negatively affected, contributing to a poor image of Uganda in the world, as these species are internationally recognized as well as the importance of Bugoma Forest.
- The conservation efforts by many organizations in and around Bugoma Forest, having various projects in the tree – planting, farmers support, socioeconomic supports to vulnerable communities including refugees in the area will be frustrated by a clear setback.
- The presence of a very dangerous sugarcane lobby, which attracted the favours of many local leaders and institutions (but certainly not the support of local people) and feels no problems in attacking a natural habitat of international biodiversity importance, will always be a threat to other positive investments in the area, investments that could create more job opportunities in a very poor socioeconomic region.
- The degradation in the area with the prospected loss of part of the forest will trigger a further escalation in degradation, further loss of habitat and endangering the biodiversity, moreover increasing the cases of all the illegalities that affected Bugoma Forest. This factor is crucial.
- The game played by various actors saying that Bugoma Forest has no clear boundaries, with the intention to grab both the protected forest and any other private forest does not help the solution of the problem.
- In the end Uganda will lose credibility in the respect and implementation of International Conventions including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which Uganda ratified in 1993 with the objective to regulate levels of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere; not forgetting the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).