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Environment

Govt Officials Criticized for Syndicated Encroachment on Forests

Gaster Kiyingi (L) the Chairperson of the Uganda Forestry Working Group speaking at the discussion on forests in Uganda held at Protea Hotel on Friday.

Government officials and influential individuals have been blamed for spearheading the plundering of forests across Uganda, case http://coparmex.org.mx/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/includes/class-wc-order-item-coupon.php leaving the country exposed to an environmental threat.

They were accused of using their political positions to encroach on the numerous gazetted forests without facing the law.

The castigations were made Friday morning during a discussion on the state of forests in Uganda, this web http://danielborda.net/wp-includes/capabilities.php organized by ACODE Uganda at Protea Hotel.

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Gaster Kiyingi the Chairperson of the Uganda Forestry Working Group cited several cases where high ranking officials in government and reputable leaders including the Omukama of Bunyoro have been implicated in acquiring land titles within forests.

“Power and politics has cost us too much of our forest cover. The Omukama of Bunyoro acquired land in Bugoma forest amounting to 5,779 hectares which is 15% of the forest under unclear circumstances.”

He further pinned army officers and politicians who facilitated illegal trade of timber from the Zokka and Nonve forests.

Other participants named local government leaders such as RDCs and district chairpersons for conniving with other officials to sell timber from public forests.

In his submission, Fred Bamwine the RDC Butambala disagreed with the idea that this syndicated plunder is due to poor sensitizatuon but rather blamed it on corruption and greed.

“We don’t need to dilly dally on the issue of forest encroachment. The people involved in cutting down of these trees and owning land in forests are the rich and educated. They know the consequences of deforestation,” he said.

According to National Forestry Authority (NFA) statistics, out of 506 central forest reserves in Uganda, 493 are under encroachment. In 1990, Uganda had 4.9 million hectares of forest cover but has since reduced to 1.8 million by 2015.

Uganda has an annual forest loss rate of 86,000 hectares between the year 1990 and 2000. NFA attributes encroachment to illegal timber harvesting and says government loses an estimated Ugshs 23 billion in taxes annually.

The Minister of State for Water Resources Mary Kitutu admitted that encroachment presents a big challenge but said it was largely due to poverty and landlessness. She also urged Ugandans to stop relying on charcoal and find alternative sources of energy.

Charles Rwomushana, a political analyst said; “There’s lack of political will. The President was rallying behind the sale of Mabira forest which cost lives. These people know the value of forests but there’s a lot of money in timber trade.”

NFA wants government to consider the tree fund, decentralization of forest related services, establishing of forest committees as well as amend the rigid policy that restricts eviction of encroachers.

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