Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) does what you might expect: it funds the establishment of timber plantations. It also, however, provides professional technical advice, training and research grants to support private growers throughout Uganda. SPGS is tackling head-on the massive looming timber crisis in Uganda and at the same time is addressing key development goals – notably, rural poverty, mitigating climate change and ultimately (by taking the pressure off natural forests to supply timber) biodiversity conservation.
SPGS is a good example of a donor-government partnership that is producing positive results. The project has been the catalyst for over US$20m of private sector investment into timber plantations in Uganda since 2004, which is all the more surprising given that ‘commercial’ forestry was traditionally seen as the state’s business. If the current rate of planting can be maintained (or even increased) for the next 5-6 years, Uganda should be largely self-sufficient in timber supply from 2020 onwards – assuming, of course, government (and National Forestry Authority) support the process by creating a favourable investment environment.
To date (Sept. 2010) over 300 investors – both large and small - have been supported by SPGS to establish over 17,000 hectares of timber plantations to acceptable standards. In doing this, many thousands of jobs have been created in rural areas, where they are so desperately needed. To support (and feed!) this fledgling industry, many small businesses are also being created – e.g. forestry contractors and nurseries. Increasingly, the private sector is becoming involved in research and training too, as the existing institutions are slow to respond to the demand. SPGS supports all these initiatives, with a view to developing a sustainable and profitable forest-based industry in Uganda.
The European Union (EU) supported the SPGS from 2004, as part of their wider forestry support to Uganda – the majority of which was concerned with the conservation of Uganda’s biodiversity-rich natural forests. The success of the first phase (2004-09) – with 11,000 ha being established) – led EU to expand support for Phase II (2009-2013). The Government of Norway also came on board in 2009, co-funding Phase II. The target for Phase II is 30,000 ha planted by the private sector, of which 6,000 ha has already been achieved to date (Sept. 2010).
New applications are always encouraged as SPGS is a dynamic organisation: if a contracted ‘Client’ does not make their agreed targets, the shortfall is soon offered to someone else. The project organizes regular Clients’ field meetings, regional study tours and frequent training courses. Follow the progress by reading the quarterly SPGS News publication (see Newsletters in main menu).
SPGS BackgroundSPGS’s Chief Technical Advisor, Paul Jacovelli, has been involved from the first concept of SPGS in 2002 to date (prior to that he was a frequent visitor to Uganda advising a private tea company on growing commercial, Eucalyptus fuelwood crops). Paul has recently published three articles which summarize SPGS’s background and (the later articles at least) discuss how the results are being achieved: the most recent was presented at the Commonwealth Forestry Conference in Edinburgh in July 2010. See:
- Concentrate on Uganda (2005). Commonwealth Forestry News, March 2005. [download here]
- Uganda’s Sawlog Production Grant Scheme: a success story from Africa (2009). International Forestry Review Vol. 11 (1) pp.119-125.
- A Ugandan model for engaging the private sector in commercial tree growing (2010). 18th Commonwealth Forestry Conference, Edinburgh, July-Aug 2010. [download here]