Uganda: Bribery gets 15 forests taken out of reserves & turned into Real Estate

Fifteen urban forest reserves are to be degazzeted to cater for the
growing population and development in some towns countrywide. “It is
difficult to sustain some of the urban forests because of the pressure
from politicians and socio-economic activities,” said Hudson Andrua,
the director of natural forests at the National Forestry Authority
(NFA). “The good thing is that the law spells out conditions for
declaring a protected area and how to degazette it,” he added.
According to Andrua, the local authorities were required to provide
alternative land in exchange for the urban forests that are to be
degazetted. He also said the urban authorities must undertake an
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) on the forests. In a recent
statement, the Ministry of Water and Environment named the forest
reserves as Arua, Kitubulu in Entebbe, Fort Portal, Gulu, Kabale,
Lira, Mbale, Mbarara and Soroti. Others are Lutoboka in Kalangala,
Kapchorwa, Kitgum, Nebbi, Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts.

ministry gave the local authorities three months within which to
provide the land and also undertake an EIA by mid February, according
to Andrua. Environmentalists and the Entebbe area MP, Muhamed Kawuma,
have protested the move to degazette Kitubulu. “The intention of the
people behind the degazettement is to get money by selling the land to
the big shots,” said Kawuma. In a separate interview, Douglas Lugumya,
the chairperson of Entebbe District Wildlife Association said Kitubulu
and Kyewaga were part of the ecological system of Lake Victoria.
“Without Kitubulu, the rain water will sweep all the soil into the
lake,” said Lugumya. A recent study by Makerere University scientists,
Dr. Eric Sande, Dr. Isabirye Basuta, Dr. Deborah Baranga and Dr.
Robert Kityo showed that Kitubulu was a habitat for rare bird species.
The report said the forest houses four primates including the black
and white Columbus monkeys, once common around the lakeshores but are
fast disappearing. Baguma Isoke, the chairperson of the board of
trustees at NFA, said the forest has been allocated to concessionaires
in eco-tourism for 25 years. “It is one unique forest that should be
protected at all costs,” said Isoke.

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