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354 forest reserves face destruction

By Vision Reporter

Added 25th April 2007 03:00 AM

SEVENTY percent of the 506 forest reserves in the country risk destruction, the State Minister for Environment, Jessica Eriyo, has warned.

SEVENTY percent of the 506 forest reserves in the country risk destruction, the State Minister for Environment, Jessica Eriyo, has warned.

By Fred Ouma
SEVENTY percent of the 506 forest reserves in the country risk destruction, the State Minister for Environment, Jessica Eriyo, has warned.

Eriyo cited increased pressure on the forest reserves, especially those under district and private ownership and blamed it on population explosion, poverty and unemployment.

“We discovered that the poor and unemployed directly depend on forests for survival. Encroachers are randomly cutting down trees and we cannot evict them.”

The minister was on Saturday representing the First Lady, Janet Museveni, as the chief guest during the launch of the Enviro-Care Initiative at St. Stephen Primary School in Kyebando Central Zone, Kawempe Division, Kampala.

The initiative aims at relieving the cholera-prone division of polythene bags and plastics.

Eriyo noted that there is need for a change in the ownership policy so that the Central Government can directly control all forests.

“The current situation spells an environmental dilemma as reserves belonging to private owners and local governments are under serious abuse because of the increased human activities. Only the central forest reserves directly under the Central Government are protected.”

Responding to a call not to give-away Mabira Forest for sugarcane growing, Eriyo said a process, which includes carrying out an environment impact assessment and identifying land of the same size and value, would be followed before deciding whether the forest should be degazetted or not.

“The process is not easy but be assured that the decision would be in your interest.”

Enviro-Care Initiative boss Philip Ssekimpi said his group gives incentives like soap to people who give them polythene bags for recycling.

354 forest reserves face destruction

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