The decision to suspend planting and lay off workers follows the outcry caused by an Oxfam report released September 2011 attacking the eviction of “illegal squatters” by the Ugandan government from NFC’s plantations.
The UK based New Forests Company is the biggest forestry company in Uganda and one of the biggest foreign investors in Uganda’s agri-business sector. The company has planted 27,000 acres (42 square miles) of pine and eucalyptus trees in Mubende, Kiboga and Bugiri districts and has invested more than $23m in Uganda since 2005.
Julian Ozanne, chief executive of NFC said in a media release, “Having planted millions of trees every year for the past six years and led the creation of a modern Ugandan forestry industry, we are very sad to have to suspend planting and lay off workers, forcing people back into poverty. Job creation is critical to poverty alleviation in Uganda and losing jobs is a negative development for Uganda economic growth. We very much regret this but have been put in a position where we had no alternative.”
For its part, Oxfam is calling on NFC and its investors to investigate the events in Kiboga and Mubende, make its findings public, and pay compensation and damages to the affected villagers.
Lands owned by state and federal government now contribute little to California’s wood supply (see the graphic below). Private landowners (the green area) now carry nearly all the burden for California’s timber harvesting and its wood demand. (Source: California Forestry Association CA Timber Harvest Statistics 1978-2009.)
Our California forests have the capacity to produce all the wood we need and export some as well, yet we import 75% of our wood. You can bet the wood we import wasn’t harvested under restrictions as comprehensive as those within California’s Forest Practices Act. Did any of the harvests have a Timber Harvesting Plan that took water and wildlife into consideration?
And just how much wood do we Californians consume? According to a paper published by the University of California at Berkeley, Californians used somewhere around 8.5-9 billion board-feet in 1999. Given that CA’s consumption grew by ~3 to 4 BBF from 1990 to 1999, we may currently consume 11-12 BBF. How much do we harvest in California? According to data from the California Forestry Association, about 1.6 BBF, i.e., about 15 percent of what we use, leaving 85 percent to come from other places.