NatureUganda through the PPN (People Partner with Nature) programme in partnership with the NFA (National Forestry Authority) have embarked on forest restoration efforts for Echuya CFR in South western Uganda with over 600 bamboos planted.
The bamboo found in Echuya forest reserve is montane bamboo and is one of the fastest growing perennial plants occuring naturally in other mountain forests in Uganda including Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, Rwenzori and Mt Elgon National Parks. It belongs to the family gramineae and sub-family bambusoideae. Once established, new bamboo shoots can attain full heights and diameters within 2-3 months and by 2-3 years are mature and strong enough to be utilized.
Bamboo forest is a habitat and has a wide range of functions for biodiversity conservation and human well being. For instance, it protects water catchments, prevents soil erosion and provides food for animals of global conservation concern such as mountain gorillas and monkeys that consume young bamboo sprouts. As well as these ecological functions, bamboo is widely used in homesteads around protected areas. It is the single-most important plant resource, with a multitude of uses including building poles, bean stakes, granaries, basketry and fuel. As a way of reducing pressure on the forest and protecting the soil in this mountainous area of Echuya, NatureUganda with support from Dansk Ornitologisk Forening (DOF) embarked on a number of interventions including planting bamboo outside the forest which has for long been a source of bamboo for domestic use.
In October 2017, the NFA apportioned 2 hectares of land for bamboo planting; 1 hectare in Rwamashunga-Hamukara on the shores of L. Bunyonyi- Muko and another at Echuya FR. Together with CFM members of Echuya Conservation & Development Association (MECDA) and community members of Hamukara, bamboo has been planted on the apportioned pieces of land. The bamboo used was dug up from a bamboo nursery which was set up in November 2016 in Muko Sub County as a result of a partnership between NatureUganda, the NFA & the Community comprising over 6933 Lowland Aspur species. Approximately 630 bamboo cuttings were planted in Echuya CFR in October 2017 alone.