He asked the government to expedite the process of opening the boundaries of the forest reserve to allow justice to prevail so that National Forestry Authority-NFA, the kingdom as well the community near the forest reserve can know their boundaries.
Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has distanced its self from
allegations that it entered a Memorandum of Understanding with unidentified
people to cut trees in Bugoma central forest reserve in Kikuube district.
This follows a rumour that started doing rounds last month indicating
that the Kingdom had signed an MoU with some individuals in Hoima and Kampala harvest
trees from Bugoma forest reserve for timber.
It came after over 300 people armed with power saws, axes,
hoes and machetes were ferried to the forest to aid the cutting of the trees. This
triggered tension among the Kingdom subjects, Civil society organizations-CSOs
and Environmentalists. They tasked the Kingdom authorities to explain details
in the MoU. However, the kingdom has been tight-lipped on the matter.
Andrew Byakutaga, the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom premier has told URN in an
exclusive interview that the monarch has never signed any MoU with anyone to
cut trees in Bugoma forest reserve nor on the Kingdom ancestral land adjacent
to the forest reserve. He says who is cutting trees in the forest reserve is
doing so on his own.
//Cue in;” Another claim which…
Cue out:…arrangement in it.”//
Byakutaga says the only MoU the Kingdom signed is the one allowing Hoima Sugar
Limited to grow sugar cane on the Kingdom’s ancestral land adjacent to Bugoma
//Cue in; ”The claim which…
Cue out:…to the people.”//
He asked the government to expedite the process of opening the
boundaries of the forest reserve to allow justice to prevail so that National
Forestry Authority-NFA, the kingdom as well the community near the forest reserve
can know their boundaries.
//Cue in:” The main challenge…
Cue out:…very very clearl,.”//
Bunyoro Kitara has been on the spotlight for allegedly leasing parts of Bugoma Central
forest reserve to Hoima Sugar Limited for Sugar cane growing. The sugar factory
leased close to 22 square miles of the contested Bugoma Central forest reserve
land from the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom for 99 years.
However, the National Environment Management Authority -NEMA found 13 of the 22
square miles, unfit for sugar growing and recommended their preservation
since it’s a wetland and forest reserve.
The authority allowed Hoima Sugar factory to cultivate sugarcane on the
remaining 9.24 square miles covering the grassland, establish an urban center
on 1.26 square miles, an eco-tourism centre on 1.97 square miles and restore
3.13 square miles of the forest reserve.
They also recommended the preservation of another 0.156 hectares for the
cultural site and 6.17 square miles as a natural forest. Covering 410
square kilometers of a protected area and a stretch of forest measuring 40
kilometers, Bugoma is a tropical forest that was gazetted in 1932.
It is endowed with 24 species of mammals, 465 species of trees, 359 species of
birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130 species of moths. The forest
reserve is a migratory route for wild animals and a catchment for rivers that
drain into Lake Albert, where oil has been discovered.
However, the Kingdom has maintained its position that the land that was leased
to Hoima Sugar is not part of Bugoma forest but the Kingdom’s Ancestral land.