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Bundibugyo Residents Question Cutting Trees in Semuliki National Park

Etienne Muhumuza, the Burondo Sub county LC V councilor, says it is unfortunate that while the entire globe is concentrating on afforestation, Semuliki National Park sanctioned the cutting down of trees from a district that has been grappling with effects of deforestation.
Some of the timber from the trees cut in Semuliki National Park.

Audio 5

A section of residents of Bundibugyo district are questioning the cutting of trees in Semuliki National Park in Ntotoro Sub County.

In September, the management of Semuliki National Park allowed Bata Wood Company Limited to cut down trees in the park.

Several bundles of trees are lying along Bundibugyo-Lamia Road at Kirumya trading center.

Now, Bernard Bakatsuka, a resident of Kirumya trading center, says a number of animals are running away from the game park owing to the noise of the machines being used to cut trees.

Bakatsuka, who was recently bitten by a snake, says the villages around the national park are grappling with managing a number of animals including snakes, wild cats that are terrorising the community.

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Hannington Monday, the Chairperson Ntotoro sub county says he has sought answers from the district leadership on why the trees are being cut in vain.

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Etienne Muhumuza, the Burondo Sub county LC V councilor, says it is unfortunate that while the entire globe is concentrating on afforestation, Semuliki National Park sanctioned the cutting down of trees from a district that has been grappling with effects of deforestation.  

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Bundibugyo is currently experiencing extreme weather conditions especially flooding in the areas of Kirumya, Kisubba, Busaru, Ntotoro and Harugale.  

Muhumuza says afforestation and re-afforestation are tested means of curbing environmental degradation, which ought to be encouraged.

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Nelson Guma, the Kibaale Area Conservation Manager, says the wildlife body has only sanctioned the cutting of exotic trees within the game park.  He says the exotic trees were planted by the forestry department in the 1970s to generate revenue.

Guma however, says their objective is to conserve and preserve indigenous trees which were being "eaten up" by the exotic trees especially Terminalia and Cidrella adorata species.

He says the two tree species don’t support the ecosystem in the forest. Guma who didn’t mention the exact number of trees being cut down told URN that the trees will not exceed 1% of the total forest cover in Game Park.

Lawrence Faita, the Bundibugyo District Forestry Officer, says they are closely following and have since noticed some glaring gaps in what should ideally have been a good move to conserve the indigenous tree species.

Faita also says they have learnt that the contractor Bata Wood Company Limited was cutting some other trees that are yet to be confirmed and marked exotic.   

He also says that contrary to the contract, the conversion of logs into timber was being done within the protected area yet it ought to be done outside such that animals and birds are not scared away.

The forestry officer said they have engaged National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to establish if an environmental impact assessment was ever done to allow for the cutting of trees in Semuliki National Park.