“I will clearly stand and still say: save Bugoma forest. We de-campaign every move, every action of destroying the forest and we condemn it, and we condemn it, and we condemn it. The people who want to plant sugarcane should rather venture into planting sugarcane in non forested areas. They could look at buying land from community members who are willing to sell their land and plant their sugarcane there. But they should stay away from the heritage of Bunyoro. Bugoma has scarce trees of Bunyoro. Bugoma has great history of Bunyoro. You cannot do away with Bugoma and you say you love Bunyoro as a kingdom,” Ms Harriet Hope Akello.
Environmental experts have warned of the worst looming climate change if perpetrators degrading Bugoma forest are not checked.
The Resilience and Climate Change Coordinator at Oxfam International, Kampala Mr Jackson Muhindo, accuses the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of certifying the giveaway of part of Bugoma central forest land to Hoima Sugar Ltd for sugarcane growing.
Mr Muhindo underscores the value of forests in carbon sinking and rain formation wondering that despite knowing that Uganda is a signatory to the Paris Agreement where it committed itself to preserve the environment, NEMA went ahead to approve the destruction of Bugoma forest.
He warns that if environmental degradation continues at this rate, a serious catastrophe awaits wondering that a big part of Uganda’s forest cover has been depleted.
Mr Muhindo advises the government to look for another piece of land without a forest for a sugarcane plantation, insisting that Bugoma forest must be protected from destruction.
The coordinator tells Hoima Sugar Ltd to be mindful of the current climate change as a problem that can be exacerbated if the investor’s actions towards the ecosystem are not tamed reminding them that without a good climate, sugarcane cannot grow well.
Mr Muhindo urges the people of Bunyoro to raise up and fight climate change advising that every household should plant at least one tree in addition to protecting the already existing ones on their land.
He wants austere laws that protect forests and wetlands enacted and implemented in order to fight climate change in the country.
Mr Isaac Kabayiza, a Climate Change Mitigation Officer in the Ministry of Water and Environment observes that Bunyoro is being subjected to massive environmental degradation like tree felling with little being done to save the situation.
He castigates politicians for shielding the perpetrators with intent to amass votes at the detriment of the natural setting and good future of the subsequent generations.
The officer also reprimands responsible government bodies for approving the destruction of Bugoma forest yet they know the importance of trees in keeping the climate normal.
Given the ongoing oil and gas activities in the sub-region, Mr Kabayiza says Bunyoro’s ecosystem should be protected through capacity building of different stakeholders like law sector, community mobilisation to change people’s mindset about environmental destruction so as to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Ms Harriet Hope Akello, the Acting National Coordinator of Climate Action Network Uganda, condemns the destruction of Bugoma forest reminding the perpetrators of the current climate change evidenced in prolonged drought and floods that are hitting Uganda.
She says if Bugoma forest continues to be destroyed, Uganda will suffer the brunt of an unprecedented climate change.
Ms Akello also argues that destroying Bugoma forest is a pointer of perpetrators who do not have any will for Bunyoro’s heritage.
Mr Dickens Amanya, the coordinator Bunyoro Albertine Petroleum Network on Environmental Conservation (BAPANECO) calls for synergy among all climate change networks at regional national and international levels so they can save Bugoma forest from destruction.
He wonders that the forest that was conserved for donkey years is now being destroyed in favour of sugarcane growing yet it has for long been moderating Uganda’s climate.
Mr Amanya wants all duty bearers to convene consultative meetings and engagements with the local community and other stakeholders so they can contribute their input about Bugoma forest.
The Paris Agreement
Uganda signed The Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016, with its ratification, acceptance, approval and accession on September 21, 2016.
It is among the 197 countries that signed the agreement that was adopted on December 12, 2015, at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Paris from November 30, to December 13, 2015.
The Paris Agreement central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
It entered into force on November 4, 2016, 30 days after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depositary.