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Parliament directs army to stay in Bugoma forest

By Moses Walubiri

Added 16th August 2019 12:23 AM

Among individual encroaching on this forest, according to Kaluya, include sugar cane growers, army veterans and the kingdom of Bunyoro.

Parliament directs army to stay in Bugoma forest

Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. Photo by Miriam Namutebi

Among individual encroaching on this forest, according to Kaluya, include sugar cane growers, army veterans and the kingdom of Bunyoro.

ENVIRONMENT   FORESTS

KAMPALA - The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has blocked any attempt by the ministry of defense to withdraw a contingent of Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers guarding Bugoma forest until the minister of environment explains the ongoing attempts to clear part of the forest.

Kadaga's directive followed a ‘complaint' on Friday by Andrew Kaluya (Kigulu South) that his recent oversight visit with the House's natural resources committee revealed that the commandant of the UPDF contingent was under pressure to withdraw.

"We direct that soldiers remain until the minister updates us on Bugoma forest encroachment next Tuesday. If soldiers leave, there will be a bonanza," Kadaga said.

Kaluya told the House that its true part of the forest has been cut down and that lawmakers found a motley combination of security personnel comprised of the army, police and National Forest Authority's environmental police.  

Among individual encroaching on this forest, according to Kaluya, include sugar cane growers, army veterans and the kingdom of Bunyoro.

"We have since heard that the commander of this continent is under pressure to withdraw and he has promised to do exactly that if his superiors persist in pressurizing him," Kaluya said.

The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns, and east of Lake Albert, western Uganda.

It's a unique biodiversity site, being home to a number of animals and birds.

Government records indicate that it was gazetted in 1932. However, the individuals laying claim to the forest, Kaluya told the House, have titles secured three years ago.

News about encroachment on Bugoma Forest to plant sugar canes has spawned a heated debate about Uganda's vanishing forest cover.

Recently, the National Planning Authority (NPA) revealed that Uganda's forest cover has dwindled from 26% in 1986 to a measly 9% of last year.

Despite President Yoweri Museveni directing Chief Administrative Officers to evict individuals encroaching on wetlands and forests during his state of the nation address this year, incidents of encroachment still persist.

Recently, the High Court rejected the application to halt the destruction of 22 square kilometers of Bugoma Forest.

The court ruled that the land in issue belongs to Hoima Sugar Limited and Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and that the company was free to start sugarcane growing.

With the Bunyoro kingdom being sucked into allegations of destroying a forest reserve, Kadaga also directed the minister in charge of Bunyoro affairs to clear the air next week.   

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