Uganda’s forest cover has been depleted to 8% up from 24% in 1990s, largely attributed to human encroachment for different activities such as tree cutting for charcoal and timber as well as agriculture.
Sam Mangusho Cheptoris, the Cabinet Minister of Water and
Environment has expressed concerns over the continued depletion of Uganda’s natural
forests and wetlands.
Uganda’s forest cover has
been depleted to 8% up from 24% in 1990s, largely attributed to human
encroachment for different activities such as tree cutting for charcoal and timber
as well as agriculture.
Speaking during the manifesto week on Wednesday, Cheptoris said
most Ugandans were bitter with the management of forests in Uganda.
He said however that majority of forest cover that has been lost
has been under private land.
//Cue in: “We have 506 central government forests…
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According to Cheptoris, the ruling NRM recognizes the important role
forests play in the ecosystem.
The NRM government in its Manifesto committed itself to demarcate and
gazetted critical wetlands and fragile ecosystems in the country that were
under great threat of encroachment and degradation, with a view of maintaining
Cheptoris says since 2016, the Ministry of National Water and Environment has
demarcated over 88.7Km wetland boundary in districts of Pallisa, Arua, Gulu,
Amuru, Maracha, Lira, Hoima, Masindi, Buhweju, Bushenyi, Mbarara, Mbale,
Namutumba, Wakiso, Mukono, and 60km of River Nile buffer zone in Jinja,
He furthers that over of 1,535 hectares of critical wetlands in Mbarara,
Kiruhura, Aleptong, Dokolo, Lira, Pallisa, Kumi, Kampala, Wakiso, Kayunga,
Lwengo, Masak and Sheema were restored to secure their ecological and
On restoration of degraded natural forests in forest reserves, Cheptoris
says they seek to strengthen policing to protect forest reserves and forests
against illegal activities.
As at June 2018, a total of 2,511 Hectares of natural forest have been restored
by the Forestry Authority. He pointed out that what remains a challenge to them
are investors who have fraudulently acquired land occupied by the
According to Cheptoris, the ministry was shocked about the planned takeover and
demolition of part of Bugoma Forest, a protected tropical forest situated southwest
of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo.
The forest, gazetted in the 1930s, is under the mandate of the National
Forestry Authority in 2003. According to the Fortune of Africa, the forest is
endowed with a high biodiversity with 24 species of mammals, 465 species of
trees, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterfly and 130 species of moths.
//Cue in: “Yesterday, some Young man came to my office…
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Tom Okello Obong, the Executive Director of the National Forestry Authority
says, for now, Bugoma Central Forest Reserve is safe after government appealed
the Masindi High Court ruling recently that okayed the destruction of 22-square
miles of for sugarcane growing.
Bugoma Central Forest Reserve sits on a total area of 41,100 Hectares,
about 411 Square Kilometres. The company which wanted to put a sugarcane
plantation claims 14% of this prime forest, equivalent to 60 Square Kilometres
(about 22square miles).
“For now, Bugoma is safe. The company came to destroy it and they were
stopped. And the case is in court,” Obong said on Wednesday.
According to Obong, the issue of Bugoma, just like Wamale forest reserves
in Bbale Sub-county in Kayunga District has been one those key forest land
grabs that have haunted the authority to pave way for Sugar cane
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Environment Minister Cheptoris says majority of these forests have been
encroached on and illegal activities continue to occur due to scarcity of environmental
According to Obong, there are only 187 police officers under the
environmental protection unit out of the required 350 personnel.
“We feel if the number could be raised to about 350
personnel, we feel it could help. But in the long term situation, we are
looking at an ideal number of about 500 officers and men to help in the
protection of the natural resources in Uganda,” Obong said.
Obong also contends that illegal logging and charcoal burning in
Mabira forest has been largely facilitated by the communities living within the
//Cue in: “We have the forest…
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