Environmentalists renew demand for Bugoma forest boundary opening

Part of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kikuube District.

Environment lovers under the Save Bugoma Campaign have revived their demand to have the boundary of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve opened.

A media release signed by the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign (SBFC) Media Relations Officer, Mr Joshua Mutale, calls the Minister of Lands, Ms Judith Nabakooba, to ensure that opening of the Bugoma forest boundaries be repeated after it stalled in December 2021.

The exercise held up after unknown people uprooted some mark stones that had been used in the demarcation process by the Ministry of Lands.

In the statement released yesterday (Monday, January 24, 2022), the Chairperson SBFC National Task Force, Mr Dickens Kamugisha, says the insensitivity manifested in failure to open the boundary, has resulted in compromising the existence of Bugoma forest as encroachers take advantage of the lull.

“The boundary opening which was aimed at protecting Bugoma forest from land grabbing, has been marred by several flaws that have endangered conservation of the forest,” he says.

However, in the statement, SBFC Media Relations Officer, Mr Mutale, reveals that SBFC has receipt of information that the boundary opening exercise is set to begin soon and will be concluded this month.

He says during meetings that SBFC held with the Ministry of Lands in February and November 2021 in Kampala, the ministry agreed to invite stakeholders to witness the boundary opening including the SBFC, Institution of Surveyors- Uganda, Uganda Law Society (ULS) Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) and others to participate in the boundary opening to ensure independent oversight for credible results among other resolutions.

Mr Mutale adds that to the SBFC members’ amazement, when the ministry and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) began the boundary opening exercise in November 2021, the commitments were not followed.

“The SBFC was not formally invited to participate in the boundary opening exercise. We are unaware of any invitations being extended to the stakeholders. Without independent oversight by those groups, there are fears that the ongoing boundary opening will be used to legitimise and support groups that are interested in grabbing Bugoma forest land,” he says.

Adding: “The SBFC cannot sit back and watch the secret boundary opening as it goes on. This is why we are demanding that the ministry of Lands starts the boundary opening afresh alongside independent stakeholders.”

The petition demanding the opening of the forest boundary is signed by 21 environment based organisations countrywide including the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Civic Response to Environment and Development (CRED), Jane Goodall Institute Uganda, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and the Conservation of Bugoma Forest among others.

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