The Mabira forest reserve, on the shores of Lake Victoria hosts valuable wildlife, serves as a timber resource, provides ecosystem services for the water balance and the rainforests represents a tourist destination. Following a proposed plan for clearing a third of the reserve for agricultural use, the values of the forest were calculated by local researchers. This economic evaluation of the forest shows that from a short-term perspective, growing sugarcane would lead to more economic benefits than maintaining the forest reserve, with a return of 3.6 million USD/year in contrast to 1.1 million USD/year for conservation. However, sugar cane production is only optimal during a short time span - five years. When comparing both land use alternatives over the lifetime of the timber stock – 60 years, the benefits from the forest, and the ecosystem services it provides, exceed those of the sugarcane planting.
From collection: Environment and Poverty Times #5: Pro-poor growth issue
Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal