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Forestry to degazette 15 urban forests

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st January 2009 03:00 AM

FIFTEEN urban forest reserves are to be degazzeted to cater for the growing population and development in some towns countrywide.

FIFTEEN urban forest reserves are to be degazzeted to cater for the growing population and development in some towns countrywide.

By Gerald Tenywa

FIFTEEN urban forest reserves are to be degazzeted to cater for the growing population and development in some towns countrywide.

“It is difficult to sustain some of the urban forests because of the pressure from politicians and socio-economic activities,” said Hudson Andrua, the director of natural forests at the National Forestry Authority (NFA).

“The good thing is that the law spells out conditions for declaring a protected area and how to degazette it,” he added.
According to Andrua, the local authorities were required to provide alternative land in exchange for the urban forests that are to be degazetted.
He also said the urban authorities must undertake an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) on the forests.

In a recent statement, the Ministry of Water and Environment named the forest reserves as Arua, Kitubulu in Entebbe, Fort Portal, Gulu, Kabale, Lira, Mbale, Mbarara and Soroti. Others are Lutoboka in Kalangala, Kapchorwa, Kitgum, Nebbi, Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts.

The ministry gave the local authorities three months within which to provide the land and also undertake an EIA by mid February, according to Andrua.
Environmentalists and the Entebbe area MP, Muhamed Kawuma, have protested the move to degazette Kitubulu.

“The intention of the people behind the degazettement is to get money by selling the land to the big shots,” said Kawuma.
In a separate interview, Douglas Lugumya, the chairperson of Entebbe District Wildlife Association said Kitubulu and Kyewaga were part of the ecological system of Lake Victoria.
“Without Kitubulu, the rain water will sweep all the soil into the lake,” said Lugumya.

A recent study by Makerere University scientists, Dr. Eric Sande, Dr. Isabirye Basuta, Dr. Deborah Baranga and Dr. Robert Kityo showed that Kitubulu was a habitat for rare bird species.

The report said the forest houses four primates including the black and white Columbus monkeys, once common around the lakeshores but are fast disappearing.

Baguma Isoke, the chairperson of the board of trustees at NFA, said the forest has been allocated to concessionaires in eco-tourism for 25 years.

“It is one unique forest that should be protected at all costs,” said Isoke.

Forestry to degazette 15 urban forests

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