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WWF Uganda Moves to Promote Sustainable Conservation Enterprises

Last week, WWF in Uganda donated a saw mill machine (Woodmizer Lx50 14hp) to a Tree Growers and Timber Traders Cooperative in Mitooma district.

The cooperative is composed of smallholder tree planters and traders operating in the buffers of Kalinzu, Maramagambo and Queen Elizabeth protected areas which are the mixed and production zones.

The launch of the value-addition journey for Mitooma Tree Growers and Timber Traders Cooperative Society was officiated by Officials from WWF, District Local Government leadership and Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE).
According to WWF’s Forest Markets Transformation Manager, Harold Turinawe, the new technology is aimed at transforming the timber value chain and boosting the productivity of the cooperatives.

“The band sawmill technology, will demonstrate best practices in value-addition to forestry resources; improve efficiency of production, increase value from the forest resources, improve incomes, create more jobs, address issues of quality and attract better markets and better prices for the cooperators,” he said.

He added that this is one of the efforts by WWF to promote sustainable conservation enterprises, promote legal timber trade and protect the Greater Virunga Landscape using Market Approaches.

The machine has the capacity to convert logs into fine saw wood of different sizes depending on the market using little fuel and labor force. The machine produces 5 cubic meters of wood every day compared to the traditional machines like pit saw that produce less than 1 cubic meter a day.

While speaking at the launch, the Forestry Officer in charge on western region under the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Hope Asiimwe, asked the district leadership to appreciate the efforts by WWF and provide ready market for the cooperatives by procuring wood that is legally obtained for their construction works and projects.
“The district can only support this cooperative by passing an act to only procure and use legally obtained wood for all their projects and definitely this will provide market for the cooperative quality products in the area,” he noted.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) for Mitooma District, Francis Kibuuka applauded WWF Uganda for the support and urged cooperative members and district officials to mobilize more community members and interest them in planting more trees so that the machine can have raw materials always.  

Asaph Bamusiima, the Cooperative Chairperson believes that the new technology will help to organize the timber industry so that they can have a unified voice to negotiate on prices as well as eliminate illegal and unsustainable logging in the region.

WWF in Uganda has so far donated five brand new bandsaw mills (Woodmizer Lx50 14hp) to 5 district level Tree Growers and Timber Traders Cooperatives in the districts of Kisoro, Kasese, Rubirizi, Rukungiri and Mitooma.
Entry level technology is a step towards technology transformation of wood value-chain that shall eventually lead to import substitution of imported wood products.
WWF Uganda Forest Markets Transformation manager, Harold Turinawe describing the processes of operating the saw mill at the launch in Mitooma District.