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300,000 People Encroaching on Forests Reserves - NFA

The Chair of the Board of NFA, Gershom Onyango, says in 2005, there were an estimated 180,000 encroachers and when NFA started to evict them the government in 2006 issued an executive order stopping the evictions.

Audio 7

The National Forestry Authority (NFA) says there are over three hundred thousand encroachers on central forest reserves countrywide.

The Chair of the Board of NFA, Gershom Onyango, says in 2005, there were an estimated 180,000 encroachers and when NFA started to evict them the government in 2006 issued an executive order stopping the evictions.

Onyango says since the evictions stopped, the number of encroachers on central forest reserves as well as district forest reserves and national parks, has shot up to over 300,000.

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State Minister for Environment, Mary Kitutu, says of the 506 central forest reserves in Uganda, 493 are under encroachment.

Minister Kitutu says dealing with the encroachers is challenging because of under-staffing. She says the newly created Environmental Protection Police (EPF) is only 60-person strong and incapable of performing effectively.

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According to Onyango, the entire forestry sector is understaffed and underfunded. He says the 60 environmental police officers also have just one vehicle for the whole country.

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Although both Onyango and Kitutu cited central forest reserves, the state of encroachment is thought to be higher when district, community and private forests are factored in.

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