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Ugandan Government Shelves Plan to Give Away Rainforest

Uganda's government has halted a controversial plan to give away part of a rainforest to a private sugarcane producer.

The Environment Ministry said Tuesday that the Cabinet has suspended the plan to transfer 7,000 hectares of the Mabira forest to the Mehta Group.

The plan had sparked protests, including a demonstration in Kampala, last month that killed at least three people.

Uganda's environment minister, Maria Mutagamba, says a government committee will study the use of land for industrial purposes. The minister said the committee's report will serve as basis for a long-term policy on land use.

Mabira forest has been a nature reserve since 1932. Environmentalists say razing any part of it could destroy a fragile environment. They say the plan also threatened rare species of birds and monkeys.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.