A man buys charcoal from a vendor in the market in Gulu.
 Uganda’s charcoal trade is causing rapid destruction of the country’s  forests. Each year, about 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) are cleared  for the production of charcoal or timber,  according to the National Forestry Authority .  Demand for charcoal has increased dramatically over recent years,  driven by Uganda’s population growth and urbanisation. Campaigners warn  the trade is now unsustainable, and local leaders are trying to crack  down on the cutting of trees for charcoal.
 Wood collected for charcoal burning in Koch Lii in Nwoya district,  northern Uganda. In the worst years of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)  insurgency, residents fled northern Uganda and the forests became  impenetrable. Now Nwoya loses 20-40 hectares each month, according to  Okello Alfred Okot, a local government representative. ‘The rate at  which these people are cutting trees is terrible,’ he says. The  authorities of Nwoya, Amuru and Gulu districts have all banned the  trade. Anyone caught violating the ban is fined 1.5m Ugandan shillings  per truckload (£300).
 Kakande, 39, a charcoal burner, has been living in this camp in  Koch Lii for two years. He works on 32 hectares of land, burning  charcoal, cutting trees and hauling logs. “It’s extremely taxing work,” he  says. “I’m here because of poverty. Because there are no jobs. We have  pain all over [our bodies] and we feel sick. We feel backaches, pains in  our chest, and also because we inhale a lot of smoke we feel  palpitations, like our hearts beating very fast.” Kakande is paid a  commission on each bag of charcoal he makes, of 15,000 Ugandan shillings.
 Like many other charcoal burners in Koch Lii, Kakande moved to the area  from central Uganda. Burners are often in conflict with locals, who view  outsiders with suspicion. Last May, a group of local people attacked a  charcoal burners’ camp in neighbouring Amuru district. One person was  killed and 39 injured. According to a police spokesman, Patrick Jimmy  Okema, the attackers claimed the charcoal burners were destroying trees  and their motive was to control deforestation. However, land conflict is  common in Uganda, which is still recovering after decades of conflict.
 Wood in the process of carbonisation under a mound of earth and grass,  in Amuru district. In Nwoya, local government officials are developing  an incentive plan to encourage landowners to keep their trees, funded by  the penalty fines. Landowners who don’t sell their trees for charcoal  burning are to be paid 1m Ugandan shillings each year.
 A charcoal burner distributes earth on the charcoal mound. Okello  believes the incentive scheme will be effective. ‘People’s minds are  gonna change because they’ll say, “If I keep this tree for five years,  I’m going to get 5 million from the district.”’ Last year, to mark the  International Day of Forests, Nwoya district gave 1,000 pine seedlings  to 2,000 farmers for each to plant roughly two acres of new trees.
 Impounded charcoal in Pabbo, Amuru district. Despite Amuru’s countywide  ban on the commercial charcoal trade, sellers bribe police to move  trucks loaded with charcoal at night, or receive false permits for  charcoal burning and tree cutting.
 A truck loaded with charcoal heads south from Amuru district toward  Kampala, where companies and restaurants use charcoal for energy.  Transporters need a permit from the district forest officer to burn  charcoal, but it is easy to buy a fake one.
 The market in Gulu, where people continue to buy and sell charcoal. The  vast majority of Ugandans rely on wood fuel for cooking and boiling  water.
 In Kampala, women shovel and sort sawdust (from scrap wood) to make  briquettes, at Jellitone Suppliers. The recycled sawdust is added to  agricultural waste biomass such as coffee leftovers, wheat hulls, and  groundnut husks and then compacted. The end product is 20% cheaper and  more fuel efficient than charcoal from forest wood. The burning  briquette is also a cleaner fuel, giving off carbon dioxide rather than  the carbon monoxide that charcoal creates. Along with bans on the  charcoal trade, such products could help tackle deforestation.
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