26 June 2006

Uganda: Dams Will Protect Forests - Museveni

Kampala — PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has urged conservationists and primate researchers to support building hydroelectric power dams, saying they would save forests from being cut down for fuel.

He also said the government had created national parks like Kibale (with the highest density of primates), Rwenzori, Bwindi and Mgahinga that harboured endangered gorillas.

Museveni said gorilla tourism contributes 52% to Uganda's foreign earnings, showing that the government had taken a good step to promote eco-tourism on its conservation and development agenda.

He said it was a contradiction to protect endangered animals such as Mountain Gorillas and their habitats in a situation of underdevelopment.

Museveni was speaking at Imperial Resort Hotel during the opening ceremony of the 21st Congress organised by the International primatological Society that brings together more than 1,000 researchers.

Museveni said there was need to generate hydroelectric power and other renewable sources of energy such as geothermal and solar energy.

"When we have these sources of energy, people will not cut down trees for fuel wood," he said.

Museveni said about 28 billion cubic metres of wood were destroyed annually because of high dependence on wood.

He said most of Uganda's population is rural because of the low levels of industrialisation.

Richard Wrangham, the head of the International Primatogical Society (IPS), said the week-long meeting that started yesterday was the first of its kind in Uganda.

Museveni saluted IPS's Dr. Jane Goodall, a renowned primate researcher for her conservation efforts.

Jane and Dr. Gilbert Basuta of Makerere University were the key speakers who presented after Museveni.

The conference preceded a meeting at Budongo forest reserve, which has one of the largest populations of chimps in the country and houses a research station.

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