The Forest Plantations in Uganda can be traced back to colonial times. The earliest plantations of exotic trees were started in the then Kigezi District in the late 1940s by Colonial administrators who found the weather cool and therefore good for growing exotic tree species. Cupressus Lusitanica was the first species to be tried. The local Government of Kigezi was then encouraged to grow more trees as trial for growing Cupressus Lusitanica was very successful. The development of plantations then spread in similar cool climates of Lendu West Nile District and Fort Portal District. This was followed by Central Government Forest Department then started establishing more plantations in the woodland and grassland parts of the gazetted Central Forest Reserves (CFRs).
It is important to note the focus the forestry sector has shifted from managing the forests for the profitable production of timber products to managing the forest in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner. This was as a result of a projected huge deficit of forest products
The Saw log Production Grant Scheme (SPGS).
This was a joint initiative between the Government of Uganda and EU. The scheme was used to advocate, empower and build capacity of private tree growers. The efforts towards plantation development in the Country have been with the Government of Uganda through the National Forestry Authority (NFA), and its development partners SPGS triggered a major interest in commercial tree planting in Uganda.
The Government of Norway also joined in the funding of the second phase of SPGS in Sept. 2010-2013 and has already supported the establishment of 6 000 ha of timber plantations. This phase has an ambitious target of establishing 30,000 ha of plantations by the end of the project.
Uses of SPGS
- Development by providing technical training about Tree growing right from establishment through tending and management.
- It provides grants of UGX 850 000/ha (US$ 340) for growers in the category of 25-500 ha, and UGX 600 000/ha (US$ 240) for growers in the category of 501-3,000 ha. The money from these grants is only paid out after site visits by SPGS project staff to check against agreed standards, payment is made back over a 3-year period.
- The project is providing and supplying over 700,000 tree seedlings to many community groups
There are quite many tree out-grower schemes in the country but there is lack of records to establish the exact number of farmers and the trees. The Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation Project (FIEFOC) for the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda has been supporting farmers with tree planting in 33 districts. It is estimated that 20 000 ha have been planted.
Forest plantation farming has been summarised to include the following