By Busiinge George
Over 1000 encroachers who had encroached on Kasongoire central forest reserve have voluntarily vacated it, after being sensitized by National Forestry Authority (NFA). Kasongoire Central forest reserve is located in Budongo and Kyabigambire sub counties in the districts of Hoima and Masindi respectively.
According to Stuart Maniraguha, Range manager in charge of the management of forestry reserves in Bunyoro, the entire forest reserve is surrounded by over 10 villages which include; Kiryabutuzi, Katuugo, Kasongoire, Bugandale, Kiryamyongo, Terera Kisagura, Kimanya, Kyabijwenge among others.
Maniraguha says that all encroachers who had planted food in the reserve were given a period of eight months to harvest their food noting that 275 households had occupied 400 of the 3069 hectares of the forest reserve.
He adds that there has been a challenge of the forest reserve boundary and the neighbouring communities saying that to solve the empathy, they engaged the authorities of Masindi and Hoima and resolved to open the 43 kms boundaries which was done successfully.
He also explains that about half of the 400 hectares which were recovered has been planted with trees noting that this is one of success interventions registered.
Muruli JohnBosco, the forest supervisor, Bujawe beat, says the reserve had been encroached on by tobacco farmers.
However, he adds that to discourage the farmers from growing more tobacco in the reserve they engaged the tobacco companies to sign agreements compelling them not to contract farmers who grow tobacco in the reserve.
Sunday Elisa, a resident of Katuugo village says he vacated the area after he was told that a forest reserve is for tree planting and not for settlement.
Noah Kererali, the chairperson LC1 Katuugo in Kyabigambire Sub County, says some encroachers were misled by the politicians who would tell them not to vacate