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Pader Chiefdom Demands Compensation, Arrests for Environmental Destruction

The Prime Minister of the Payira Cultural Institution George Ochol-Onono says they are concerned about the influx of illegal loggers and commercial charcoal producers who have cleared close to six square miles of natural tree cover in the parishes of Burlobo and Pungole.
Heaps of felled indegenous tree spicies in Angagura Sub County Pader district 111

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The Payira Cultural Chiefdom in Pader district is seeking the arrest and prosecution of persons implicated in the destruction of endangered tree species in Angagura Sub County.

The Prime Minister of the Payira Cultural Institution George Ochol-Onono says they are concerned about the influx of illegal loggers and commercial charcoal producers who have cleared close to six square miles of natural tree cover in the parishes of Burlobo and Pungole. 

In a letter seeking the intervention from the different district stakeholders, Ochol-Onono identifies the worst affected villages as Aringonyon, Burlobo and Pabit in Burlobo parish, Pungole and Onin in Pungole parish. They have identified Doreen Ninsima, Muwada Muwereza, John Bosco Oketayot, and Busiri Okwera, among others, as the persons leading the destruction of the environment in the area.

According to Ochol-Onono, the named persons have felled the endangered shea nut tree and other indigenous species locally identified as Opok, Ogali, Olwedo, Larwec, Cwa (tamarind), Odwong, Oculub, Odugu and Otitimo that are valued and used for numerous traditional and cultural norms.

Ochol-Onono says the cultural institution is worried that the majority of the indigenous tree species could face extinction and subsequently erode the Acholi cultural norms since they are medicinal, used as food and meant for traditional rituals like dispelling misfortunes, during traditional marriages, celebrating success reconciliatory occasions amongst others.

//Cue in; “omyero kong…

Cue out….cik omako gin.”//

The Uganda National Forestry and Tree Planting Act prohibits the destruction of endangered tree species and recognizes the importance of the trees to the general population. The cultural institution is also seeking compensation of 2 million Shillings, two cows, two goats and a chicken for each Shea nut tree and one million Shillings for each of the endangered indigenous trees felled down by the perpetrators.

Ochol-Nono says the move is in the enforcement of a bylaw instituted by the supreme Acholi Cultural Institution, Ker Kwaro Acholi against cutting endangered tree species to stop the probable extinction of endangered tree species.

The Angagura Sub County Chairperson Stephen Fred Okello acknowledges the concerns from the cultural institution saying some of the culprits have been arrested and two trucks they use to transport their charcoal load out of the area also impounded. 

Okello says the suspects however argued that they sought permission from the authorities of the National Animal Genetic Resources Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC & DB) that is managing the Aswa Ranches to cut down trees on the areas belonging to them.  

Okello, however, says officials of the Aswa Ranches have always shifted the blame on the part of the community who are alleged to be hiring out chunks of land to the charcoal dealers to clear off trees and vegetation cover to commence intensive agriculture.