Uganda: Now that the forests that once sheltered Mpigi are completely gone, he said, you should also leave.

Kampala — STANDING tall during the meeting, Bavekunno Kyesswa, a
councillor from Ngando sub-county did not mince his words: “Now that
the forests that once sheltered Mpigi are completely gone,” he said,
“you should also leave.” “We should conserve what is left and improve
what has been destroyed,” said Kyesswa.

“As a district we are mandated
to implement Government programmes, but since the forests are
disappearing, we ask the minister to put the forests under the control
of the district.” This was after an assessment by Jane Kyomya, a
councillor of Mpigi town. “I do not know whether the top officials of
NFA have visited the forests. The water sources have dried out and you
cannot find any herbal medicine,” she says. “If they are reserves, the
name should be changed because we are losing everything, people are
ferrying firewood from the forest at night.” At Dedeya, even the
signpost was removed, an indication that the forestry body has left
chaos to reign, according to Kyomya. The issues raised by the
politicians included natural forests being replaced by planted trees
like eucalyptus and pines. In some cases, permits are issued to
investors to plant trees on the land covered by natural trees, the
councilors say. They say this could make them unpopular in the coming
elections. People are asking us to explain why the forests are getting
destroyed,” says Kyomya. “It could make it politically risky in the
next elections if nothing is done.” Speaker after speaker, threw more
allegations. They ranged from razing down of trees to allow cattle
grazing in forest reserves, to replacement of virgin natural forests
with plantations of eucalyptus and pines. In some cases the
beneficiaries allocated part of the forest to plant trees have ended
up planting maize and beans.

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