This briefing, compiled by the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) and the Timberwatch Coalition (TW), is now also available in Swahili. It focuses on various internal and external factors determining changes in the extent of land under industrial tree plantations in 11 eastern and southern African countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe; Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho; and Madagascar.
This article gives an overview on the industrial tree plantation expansion threat in eastern and southern African countries, its external drivers, as well as the challenges this expansion presents to affected communities struggling to defend their land and livelihoods.
In order to better understand peoples' struggles across the southern and eastern regions of Africa, reflecting on its history is crucial. This editorial highlights some parts of this history. And this, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Batwa (often described as “pygmies”) are widely regarded as the original forest-dwelling inhabitants of the Equatorial forest in the Great Lakes Region comprising Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, they lived in the forest of the Mufumbira Mountains in the South West. They were hunter-gatherers that relied on the forests for their livelihood and found in the forests the sustenance for their spiritual and social life.
The indigenous inhabitants of Rwanda are the Twa, a ‘Pygmy’ people who originally lived as hunters and gatherers in the high altitude forests around the lakes in the Albertine Rift area of central Africa, in the present-day countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In some parts of DRC, Twa are still able to live a forest-based existence. However, in most other areas the Twa have had to abandon their traditional way of life as their forests have been destroyed by logging, agriculture and "development" projects.