THE ENDANGERED BUGOMA FOREST: Illegal Land Owners & Investors Cited in Delayed Release of a Report

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Bugoma forest is currently among the most endangered forests in Uganda due to the ongoing terrible deforestation. Bugoma Forest reserve is one of the most important Forest reserves in Uganda and is a home to over 34 species of mammals including 4 globally threatened mammal species of which 9 mammal species are listed under IUCN's Red List. There are 9 species of reptiles.

Illegal land owners, investors and other perpetrators have been cited to have allegedly influenced the delay of the release of the report on the opening of the boundary of the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district, western Uganda. The opening of the Bugoma Central Forest reserve boundaries was concluded in August 2022.
Christine Nakimweero Kaaya, the Woman member of parliament-MP for Kiboga who doubles as the shadow minister for Water and Environment recently expressed concern, and said she’s convinced that the investors are sweet-talking and corrupting some of the land officers to delay the sharing of this report.

The opening of the Bugoma Central Forest reserve boundaries was concluded in August 2022.

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“I believe that is the case. That is why they were even coming up with the proposals of influencing local government to request for the change of the land use in the central forest reserves” she states.
The demand for the exercise to open the boundaries was against a backdrop of reports of many illegal land owners in gazetted forest reserves.
“It is unfortunate that to date we have not received that report. That is the exact challenge, that there are a lot of illegal land owners in the forests who brought a number of tenants in the forest. Some of them accessed land titles illegally,” she added.
The female legislator argues that it’s very important for the ministry of water and environment through National Forestry Authority-NFA to harmonize with the ministry of lands, because it’s the ministry that issues the land tittle.
Some people, she said had also connived with cultural institutions to access land in the forests and have also connived with the local governments in the area to request that these central forest reserves be turned into national parks.

This on the ground that national parks bring in more revenue to the district local councils than the forest reserve.
“That is any way their interest. Too much interest in the wild game than the forest cover. Yet based on the ongoing activities the forest cover is needed more than the wild game. And if the environment and the emissions are just left in the atmosphere, even the wild game we anticipate to have in the area will be no more” she averred.
Under the national parks management act, there is a provision for eco-tourism where individuals are given portions to develop them, build infrastructure for tourists like roads and hotels,” she explained.
“And they believe that in case it’s turned into a national park, then they will turn into managers of eco-tourism within these parks and they become legal then. If it was a lease hold land tittle, it can be turned into free hold land title which is very dangerous for those areas” she added.
With the ongoing oil extraction activities, Kabale airport, the East African oil pipe line, among other activities, the shadow minister for environment is concerned that these and other activities will generate a lot of carbon emissions, which she states would have been consumed by the Bugoma and Budongo forest for a start.

The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns, and east of Lake Albert, in the Hoima district of western Uganda. It was gazetted in the 1932 and came under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority in 2003. It covers an area of 400 km² in Hoima district, western Uganda.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT SAYING? Dennis Obo, the spokesperson ministry of lands, housing and urban development told this reporter that the exercise to open the boundary was concluded by their technical team following the cabinet directive to open the boundaries of Bugoma Central forest reserve.
He revealed the report on the same is already out and was submitted to cabinet.
“We usually implement cabinet directives, we went on ground, we opened the boundaries, we did produce a report on the same and we submitted this report back to cabinet last year 2023~ he affirmed.
Without divulging the details of the report, Obbo said they were now awaiting cabinet decision on the matter.
“All I can say is that we did our work, we completed, and submitted the report to cabinet for their consideration and decision making”.
The Bugoma Central Forest reserve boundary opening started in November 2021 following a cabinet directive in 2019 to the ministry of water and environment, after it was entangled in controversial land dispute.
The exercise was concluded in 2022 August but the report of the same has never been published or shared with parliament and other state holders.
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The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns, and east of Lake Albert, in the Hoima district of western Uganda. It was gazetted in the 1932 and came under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority in 2003. It covers an area of 400 km² in Hoima district, western Uganda. Bugoma forest is currently among the most endangered forests in Uganda due to the ongoing terrible deforestation.
Bugoma Forest reserve is one of the most important Forest reserves in Uganda and is a home to over 34 species of mammals including 4 globally threatened mammal species of which 9 mammal species are listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature-IUCN’s Red List. There are 9 species of reptiles.
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