Part of Bugoma Forest which will be affected by EACOP

Report: How EACOP will endanger biodiversity in three forests in Uganda

“The forests sequester and store carbon in their biomass and forest soils, contributing to regulation of the carbon cycle and climate change mitigation, a major challenge of our time,” the report notes.

At least three forests in Uganda that will be traversed by the East African Crude Oil Project (EACOP) risk losing a significant part of their biodiversity as well as their ability to mitigate climate change, a report authored by the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) has noted.

AFIEGO, a Ugandan nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of fighting against climate change and that has rooted for energy transition, authored the report in December 2022.

According to the report, one of the forests which will be gravely impacted by EACOP, Bugoma Forest Reserve in Kikuube and Hoima districts “is a watershed with many streams and permanent Rivers like Rwemiseke and Hohwa draining from theforest to Lake Albert and River Nile.”

The forest also contains 34 species of mammals, nine species of reptiles  and primates with over 600 estimated chimpanzees. All these will be disrupted by EACOP.

The forest also consists of 257 tree and shrub species including seven species that are Albertine Rift endemic, more than 12 species that are globally threatened, the report notes.

The seconf forest that will be affected by EACOP is the Wambabya Central Forest Reserve (CFR) which covers Kikuube and Hoima districts.

According to the report the Wambabya forest ecosystem has high biodiversity and ecological importance.

“The forest is home to endemic as well as nationally and globally threatened animal species. Species of regional conservation concern in the Wambabya forest system include the Yellow-fronted Tinker birds (Pogoniulus chrysoconus), which are of regional responsibility (RRR) conservation importance,” the report notes.

The report states that Wambabya also has a population of around 120 chimpanzees and has tree species such as: Mangifera indica (Mango), Ficus mucoso (Mutuba), Albizia grandibracteata (Nnongo) and Phoenix reclinata (Kikindukindu). Others include Markhamia lutea (Lusambya), Borassus aethiopum (Kituugo) and  Artocarpus heterophylla (Fennensi).

The third forest to be affected by EACOP is Taala Central Forest Reserve (CFR) found in Kyankwanzi district.

“Taala CFR is a key biogeographical area with several interesting species. The flora and fauna of this reserve are somewhat diverse and are characterized by some restricted range species. The number of species known from  Taala Forest are 106 trees and shrubs, 52 birds, 13 small mammals, 10 hawkmoths, six species of silk moths, 75 butterflies of which two are known to be restricted in range,” the report notes.

According to the report the pipeline will pass through the wetland or riverbank area of Taala CFR.

“Over 147,31823 tree stems and saplings, belonging to 510 indigenous and exotic species were found in Taala CFR during the EACOP valuation exercise that was conducted by TotalEnergies,” the report states.

The report notes that forest ecosystems such as Bugoma, Wambabya and Taala provide an array of critical and diverse ecosystem services and values to people’s wellbeing and economic development of Uganda.

“The forests sequester and store carbon in their biomass and forest soils, contributing to regulation of the carbon cycle and climate change mitigation, a major challenge of our time,” the report notes.

The East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) is a planned 1,443 km pipeline that is expected to be constructed by TotalEnergies, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) as well the Ugandan and Tanzanian governments. The pipeline, whose construction could start this year (2023), is expected to transport crude oil from the Tilenga and Kingfisher oil fields in Western Uganda to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

Climate activists in Uganda and abroad have called for the delay of the project and for government to try to find solutions to environmental and ecological problems that will result from the project.

However their concerns appear not to have been addressed because the oil drilling was officially launched last month by President Museveni.