Firelines For Tree Protection [Uganda]


technologies_2149 - Uganda

Completeness: 90%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:

Anywar Michael


Gulu tree farmers association

Gulu District


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Uganda Landcare Network (ULN) - Uganda

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?



The technology is established during the dry season to guard against spread of fire within a tree or garden plantation for environmental conservation

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Fire lines are established at the boundary between tree plantations to guard against wild forest fires that destroy the valuable tree species

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Firelines, also known as firebreaks, are vegetation-free spaces, established within or between tree plantations. They also often serve as roads for motorised transport used to collect forest produce such as firewood and timber. The primary aim of this technology is to prevent wild fires from attacking and destroying trees, especially during the dry seasons. In northern Uganda, the technology is based on firelines of 5-6 meters width. Planted forests that use this technology in northern Uganda have an average size of 30 m by 120 m.
The establishment of this technology requires professional advice, starting with demarcation, using ropes or strings, and tools such as hand hoes, machetes and slashers. Maintenance of fire lines involves monitoring to ensure that the spaces are free of vegetation and dead wood. Sometimes, big trees with large canopies are maintained to discourage vegetation undergrowth's and accumulation of dead materials on forest floors.
The benefits derived from this SLM technology are both short and long term, including protection of valuable tree species from being affected by the fire, reduction of impact of air pollution and promotion of ecological balance. When professionally done, the value of these products can significantly offset the cost of maintaining the firebreaks in a given forest setting, especially where such fires become common. It is important to note that fire lines alone may not be a measure to prevent fire outbreaks. There could be need for community bylaws and fire fighting facilities to supplement this effort.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology

Comments, short description:

Video link for fire line for tree protection in Gulu District




Gulu District, Northern Uganda

Name of videographer:

Issa Aiga

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Northern Region,Uganda

Further specification of location:

Gulu Municipality, Gulu District


Map showing technology site in Northern Uganda

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Supported by National Advisory Services (NAADS)

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • preserve/ improve biodiversity
  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Mixed (crops/ grazing/ trees), incl. agroforestry

Mixed (crops/ grazing/ trees), incl. agroforestry

  • Agroforestry
Main products/ services:

Trees with rice and bananas

If land use has changed due to the implementation of the Technology, indicate land use before implementation of the Technology:


3.3 Further information about land use

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Rely on rainfed and in case of low or unreliable rainfalls the land users face water shortage

Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

April-August and August-November

3.4 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • forest plantation management
  • Protection against fires

3.5 Spread of the Technology

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If the Technology is evenly spread over an area, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V3: Clearing of vegetation
management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level
  • M3: Layout according to natural and human environment

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
  • Bf: detrimental effects of fires

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology


Michael Anywar



4.2 Technical specifications/ explanations of technical drawing

The technical drawing of the fireline system contains a set of firelines between the forest patches. Firelines are typically 5-6 metres wide.
The plantations (forest patches) shown in the technical drawing have a dimension of 30 X 120 metres.

4.3 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
Specify unit:


Specify volume, length, etc. (if relevant):

5-6 metres wide and as long as the forest length

other/ national currency (specify):

Ugandan Shilling

Indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (if relevant): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.4 Establishment activities

Activity Type of measure Timing
1. Identify a tree plantation Management Before establishment, rainy season
2. Buying equipment Management Before establishment
3. Mark the fire line Management Before establishment, during the rainynseason
4. Clear the vegetation Structural During establishment, during the rainy season
5. Monitoring Management After establishment, during the dry season

4.5 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Persons days (fireline of 5-6 meters width) persons 3.0 5000.0 15000.0 100.0
Equipment Hoe Pieces 1.0 10000.0 10000.0 100.0
Equipment Panga Pieces 2.0 5000.0 10000.0 100.0
Equipment Tape measure Pieces 1.0 30000.0 30000.0 100.0
Equipment Rope roll 2.0 2500.0 5000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 70000.0

The farmer had kept very well all the the records on the costs which helped us to calculate the costs

4.6 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Type of measure Timing/ frequency
1. Monitoring Management Twice a year, during the dry seasons
2. Cutting the vegetation Management Once a year before the dry season

4.7 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour for slashing Persons 2.0 10000.0 20000.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 20000.0

The technology requires low cost inputs for establishing and maintenance with regard to paying for clearing vegetation. However, labour is not readily available.

4.8 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour is not readily available, and is thus expensive. Hence it accounts for most of the costs required for establishment.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • not relevant

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium
Habitat diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • very poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
  • groups/ community
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land owned or leased by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)
  • individual

No community bylaws and the land is free. If you are a member of the community or household you are supposed to use the land and, thereafter leave it for others to use in future.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


risk of production failure

Comments/ specify:

Presence of firelines

land management

Comments/ specify:

Control of bush fires

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Purchase of pangas and ropes for mesuring


Comments/ specify:

Cutting and clearing the vegetation

Socio-cultural impacts

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

KNowledge on how to establish a trench having the right spacing

Ecological impacts


soil moisture


soil cover


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

Vegetation cover

Comments/ specify:

Vegetation cut to create firelines

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

damage on neighbours' fields

Comments/ specify:

Presence of firelines

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season Type of climatic change/ extreme How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well
seasonal temperature wet/ rainy season decrease moderately

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
forest fire moderately
land fire very well

Wild fires are a common threat

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:



The technology is positive with regards to maintenance costs which are rather low after establishment

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):


Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many have did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

Very few have adopted the technology because it demands a lot of labour and most people have not taken an initiative to start on their own

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


If yes, indicate to which changing conditions it was adapted:
  • climatic change/ extremes
Specify adaptation of the Technology (design, material/ species, etc.):

The cut vegetation is carried away to other fields or left in the place where its cut for decomposition

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Low costs of establishment and maintance
Can easily be replicated in other areas where fires are common
Cut vegetation can be taken to other areas as mulch or be left to decompose for soil fertility improvement
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Does not require high sophisticated skills which are available with the extension agent
Very good at preventing bush fires

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Requires money which may not be readily available with the farmer to hire labour Work in groups and form an association between tree planters to exchange labour
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Fire line alone may not be a measure alone to prevent fire outbreaks. There is a need for the formulation and application of community bylaws on fires. Support communities to formulate and implement bylaws on fires

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts
  • compilation from reports and other existing documentation
  • Compiler

Rick Kamugisha

Links and modules

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