National Forestry Authority (NFA) has accused army veterans of encroaching on Bugoma Forest Reserve and escalating its destruction.
“Retired army officers under Tulipona Veterans Association claim to be occupying the forest reserve legally. But you wonder where they got that authority,” NFA Hoima sector manager Stuart Maniraguha told the Daily Monitor on Tuesday.
Despite being warned to vacate the forest reserve, the veterans have remained defiant and are reportedly said to intimidate law enforcement officials.
The Midwestern Regional Anti-Corruption coalition, a regional anti-graft agency, which is implementing a forestry governance project, recently raised a red flag on the activities of veterans in Bunyoro sub-region forests.
The coalition’s project officer, Mr Kennedy Mugume, said they have documented cases of veterans clearing parts of Bugoma Forest for cultivation in Nyairongo village and setting up makeshift structures.
Recently, government warned encroachers in the region that they would be evicted from all forest reverses in Bunyroro.
The warning followed a number of reports filed to NFA by various security offices implicating individuals and some government officials in illegal forestry activities.
The Omukama of Bunyoro, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, told a government delegation this month that he was disturbed by the alarming rate of destruction of forests in his kingdom.
NFA executive director, Michael Mugisa recently held a consultative meeting with the Omukama, security officials, political leaders and CSOs to chart ways through which encroachment on forests in the region could be handled.
The fears Forest cover. Hoima District has 11 central forest reserves covering 61,162 hectares. The Bunyoro sub-region has 34 central forest reserves but environmentalists estimate that the region loses over 700 hectares of forests annually. According to Nema, Uganda could by 2050 have lost all its forest cover if no measures are taken to deforestation.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor