Building a sustainable future: The Opening of Uganda’s first Timber Innovation Centre on World Environment Day

6. June 2023|In News, Uganda

On World Environment Day 2023, we opened our Timber Innovation Center in the heart of Kampala. The Timber Innovation Center (TIC) aims to bring together professionals and stakeholders from the forestry and construction sectors to promote and advance sustainable timber construction in Uganda and wider East Africa. The launch event yesterday was attended numerous stakeholders, including the German ambassador His Excellency Matthias Schauer, Italian Deputy Ambassador, Mr Mario Savona, FAO Country Representative Dr Antonio Querido and Mr Wolfgang Baum, CEO of Fairventures Worldwide. The opening date stressed the environmental potential of wood as a material that is also suited for construction according to the highest standards. Timber stores carbon and can replace and reduce the usage of environmental harmful materials like concrete or plastics. 

Patience Naamara, country director of Fairventures Worldwide Uganda, emphasized the purpose of the Timber Innovation Center as a space for professionals to share ideas, experiences, and expertise in forestry management and timber value chain and pointed out Fairventures’ achievements so far:

“We are engaged in forest landscape restoration and we currently work in over ten districts in Uganda, where we have community nurseries. There we have planted close to 1 million trees with the local communities in agroforestry systems; approximately 1,580 hectares”, Ms Naamara explained.

Furthermore Wolfgang Baum, Chief Executive Officer of Fairventures Worldwide, inspired attendees by expressing his belief in future timber building projects led by the local community. He emphasized that this Timber Innovation Center was just the beginning and that more Ugandan-led initiatives are to come: „We wanted to give an inspiration to show people what is possible with timber, but for the next one, we deeply believe that it should be a Ugandan-led project and we are happy to help with any kind of knowledge transfer.“

Through extensive research we understand the opportunities and challenges in the timber value chain, including some significant gaps, such as challenges related to the visibility of timber as construction material, quality control, grading standards, and inadequate infrastructure for manufacturing, processing, and the testing of wood and wooden products. Working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, we embarked on the development of engineered wood in Uganda and as such we fabricated a mechanical glulam press to manufacture the first glued laminated beams for structural application in Uganda. 

Matthias Schauer, the German ambassador in Uganda and guest of honor at the opening, highlighted the transformative potential of timber construction in Uganda, pointing out its environmental benefits and economic opportunities. He shared the success of utilized timber construction methods in Germany and expressed his optimism about replicating this sustainable model in Uganda, which will support plantation owners and workers, encourage tree planting to combat climate change and at the same time boost the country’s economy.

Moreover, the TIC inspires hope and curiosity in the country. As visitors explore the centre’s exhibits, they will witness the possibilities of sustainable construction and the importance of preserving our natural resources for future generations. In a world fighting the usage of carbon-intensive materials and plastic pollution, the Timber Innovation Center symbolizes an alternative and progress to this environmental challenge. By embracing sustainable practices and using timber as a viable building material, the TIC sets an example for other regions. Through collective efforts and innovative solutions like the TIC, we can build towards a more sustainable future.