ABOUT FRIENDS OF ZOKA

Friends of Zoka (FoZ) is a social community group started by some community members in Adjumani District concerned with degradation of the forest and the main objective is to provide advocacy and lobbying on management of Zoka Central Forest Reserve and broader management of environmental challenges in Adjumani District.

Friends of Zoka (FOZ) aims at Advocating to promote the protection, preservation and conservation and sustainable management of the Zoka Central Forest Reserve and the bigger environment in Adjumani, West Nile and Uganda in recognition of the important role that forests play in promoting biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and supporting the livelihoods of local communities. FOZ succeeded in stopping the Ugandan government from seizing the Zoka Forest in 2016, and in the process, it established strong relationships with a larger base of community members who were similarly committed to protecting the forest from government and corporate takeover. This bedrock of community activism has served the community and cause well. Then, beginning in 2017, FOZ came to learn of a new threat to Zoka Forest: that illegal logging of high-value Afrizelia Africana trees was taking place inside the forest and across West Nile and the Northern region of Uganda.

ABOUT ZOKA FOREST RESERVE

Zoka Forest is unique, it is the only tropical high forest (THF) in the Northern part of Uganda, with rich biodiversity of flora and fauna a potential tourism attraction site has been threatened by illegal timber exploitation, encroachment as well as human settlement and agriculture.

The Zoka forest, located in Northern Uganda, stretches over some 6 145 hectares in Southern Adjumani District. It is the only tropical forest in Northern Uganda and the last natural forest along the belt of Albertine region. The forest hosts some 75 per cent of the world’s bird and insect species, and hardwood trees such as mahogany and mvule can be found here.

HOW ZOKA FOREST COVER IS BEING LOST

The loss of Zoka Forest cover is attributed to factors such as: illegal exploitation of forest resources by government authorities, multi sectoral companies,  unsustainable livelihood practices and poverty making people to undertake desperate survival strategies. The unsustainable practices include: charcoal burning; bush burning; poor agriculture practices; vegetation clearance and use of traditional cooking methods which is inefficient; and the low level of awareness on sustainable livelihood practices.

The increased destruction of Zoka Forest has led to loss of ecological services in Adjumani District that impact adversely on the livelihood of local communities. Consequently, there is increased degradation of environment in form of reduction of tree cover, increased water stress, declining soil fertility and loss of biodiversity. This in turn disrupts local livelihoods causing food insecurity, poor health for especially women and girls as they have to commute for long distances looking for firewood, water and food.

Adjumani district also experiences more frequent heat waves and related health effects affecting mostly the children, elderly and expectant mothers. This destruction of the forest increase vulnerability of communities especially women and other marginalized groups whose livelihood is directly dependent on natural resources.

Mission

To enhance the conservation of forests and environmental protection to support humanity

Vision

A Human and habitable Environment for all.

Goal

A Conducive Environment for all Humanity

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