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Leaders, Environmentalists Divided Over Plans to Degazette Namyoya Forest Reserve

Leaders led by Mukono Municipal Member of Parliament Betty Nambooze and Goma Division Chairperson Humphrey Kyase have since last week been meeting residents and municipal leaders sensitizing about the need to degazette the forest reserve.
Part of Namyoya central forest reserve.

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A campaign to degazette Namyoya Central Forest Reserve in Ggoma Division, Mukono Municipality has divided environmentalists and leaders.

Leaders led by Mukono Municipal Member of Parliament Betty Nambooze and Goma Division Chairperson Humphrey Kyase have since last week been meeting residents and municipal leaders sensitizing about the need to degazette the forest reserve.

In December 2018, the forest reserve was among the list of the 16 proposed forests to be degazetted. However, Members of Parliament requested the Ministry of Water and Environment to make a technical report on the matter as well as listing exchange land to gazette new forests. 

In its report, the Ministry said that none of the districts met the procedural and legal requirements to degazette the forest reserve. These include approval by the local government councils at all levels, alternative land in the same ecological zone for gazetting new forest. 

But now Nambooze says that they are ready to secure the council resolutions in the divisions where the forest reserve is located, municipal and at the district level.

//Cue in: “Ekibira ekyo baali...

Cue out: ...kubegabira Namyoya”//

Goma Division Chairperson Humphrey Kyase says the proposal to degazette is important and needs support. He says that it will help the division also acquire a section for a leisure park, cemetery ground, playground and a lagoon.

“It is important to degazette to have a proper plan for the area but currently people claiming to plant trees where the natural forest is cleared also set up permanent houses by the time government will wake up to stop them we shall have no land for the division activities,” Kyeswa says.

However, environmentalists in Mukono District claim there is an invisible hand driving political leaders to embark on the destruction of the remaining part of the forest instead of promoting afforestation.

Allan Mawanda, one of the environmentalists wants the Ministry of Environment to intervene to save the forest before it is destroyed.

//Cue in: “Nga tetunakola...

Cue out: ...abalinako ebyapa”//

Samuel Bunkeddeko, a resident at Bajjo, Goma Division is surprised that leaders are pushing for degazettement of the forest at a time when the district has lost almost all its natural forests.

Namyoya Forest Reserve initially had 900 acres but due to encroachment over the past years, only less than 400 acres are left. The entire forest was cleared and replaced with eucalyptus trees while other parts of the forest were used for bricklaying, wetland rice growing and construction of permanent buildings.



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