Mabira–sugar cane future?

We visited Mabira forest for a few days and it was very interesting. I’ve never been in true tropical rainforest so it was quite a treat – red tailed monkeys, buttressed trees, giant leaves, giant snails, giant bugs, tree hyraxes (that have nocturnal calls  – sound like they are being throttled to death). The plants were fantastic. Such diversity of trees and shurbs, ferns, mosses, and even a few good old invasives.

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Mabira is a focus of major political controversy at the moment. Museveni (the president) wants about a third of it cut down and turned into sugar cane plantations. I figure the world has enough sugar and possibly doesn’t have enough forest. Admittedly sugar would be a good cash crop for Uganda, but not like this. The forest is unique in many ways and sugar cane is a lot less unique….. There are so many reasons to retain Mabira as forest but a fairly strong one for us is the relationship people have with the forest. There are villages within the forest and the people in these villages rely on the forest for so much. Medicine, building materials, food, life.

We talked with two people (our guide, and the caretaker/cook where we were staying), and it was amazing to hear stories of their relationship to the forest. We heart about which trees were good for boats, sofas, food, and so many medicines.. even one which causes abortions.

While we were there we met Jason Taylor and his partner Chintan Gohil. They were busy making some films for Friends of the Earth. Their footage is amazing and they are so good at capturing and telling a story. You can find some of their work here…

It was great to talk with them about how they approach their work and the process they go through from research to editing and final production. Maybe one day The Plant Stories Project can reach that level – but it’ll take a whole lot more experience (and a bit more kit)

Have a look at some more information on Mabira on magical Wikipedia


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One response to “Mabira–sugar cane future?

  1. Brenda Armstrong

    I have never heard of a tree hyrax. Their kopje cousins don’t make throttled sounds and are usually quiet except for alarm squeaks when they see an eagle. Night sounds can be so eerie, even the possum takes on alarming proportions in his nocturnal hissing and rasping.

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