NFA demands NEMA to enforce order on Hoima Sugar over Bugoma forest

Destroyed Bugoma forest.

The Manager Kisindi Sector of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) has called for immediate enforcement of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) order on Hoima Sugar Limited in order to save the remaining part of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve (CFR).

Mr Alex Obonyo claims that the security forces attached to Hoima Sugar Limited have continued aiding deforestation.

“Even yesterday we arrested a security officer last night allocating plots to charcoal burners and loggers under their guardianship,” he said.

Audio: Obonyo on NEMA enforcement (English)

The Sector Manager also expects to see the NEMA’s practical action by issuing a timeframe for the restoration order of the forest.

On Hoima Sugar Limited’s excuse that the forested part has been cleared by encroachers, Mr Obonyo says he has evidence that the forest has been cleared by contractors of Hoima Sugar Limited.

He testifies that the NEMA intervention find tremendous harm already inflicted on the big and ecologically important part of Bugoma CFR.

“We have impounded about 30 power saws from that area and the suspected culprits confuse,” he says.

Audio: Obonyo on forest destruction (English)

Mr Obonyo spoke to journalists in Hoima city who approached him for a comment about the latest formal NEMA’s action on Bungoma forest conflict that analysts say could have come earlier than now.

Mr Dickens Amanya, the Coordinator Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental conservation (BAPENECO), welcomes NEMA’s order saying it supplies evidence to numerous claims and human rights violations during the six year old Bugoma forest conflict.

According to him, it is high time serious action was taken involving all stakeholders to save the forest or else it will vanish as documents continue being issued.

In a letter dated September 27, 2022, NEMA accuses Hoima Sugar Limited of degrading parts of Bugoma CFR.

The environment body orders Hoima Sugar Ltd to restore parts of Kikuube Mixed land use project area in Bugoma CFR and cancel approval for urban centre development in the ecosystem for which it issued an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate No. NEMA/ESIA13709 on August 14, 2022 to implement the project.

In the press statment, NEMA orders Hoima Sugar Ltd to stop any further deforestation of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban centre.

NEMA also orders that no sugar cane should be planted in the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites area and land reserved for urban centre adding that sugar cane must be restricted to the area permitted in the certificate.

“The 312.3ha earlier approved for urban centre is halted to be kept as a natural forest in view of the country’s efforts to recover forest cover loss. Restore all degraded areas of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban centre.” Reads the press statement.

NEMA is ordered to prepare a restoration plan for the degraded areas in consultation with Forestry Sector Support Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment, NFA and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and submit the same for approval in not more than three months from the date of the order.

“Implement the restoration plan at your cost with guidance from FSSD, NFA and UWA to the satisfaction of this Authority.”

The environment body warns that failure to comply with the given instructions will result in NEMA cancelling the ESIA certificate and further legal actions against Hoima Sugar Ltd.

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