By George Busiinge
The National Forestry Authority (NFA) has come under fire from the communities neighboring Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima district for abetting illegal lumbering. Residents accuse NFA officials for laxity, which has fueled the illegal timber trade and charcoal burning within the forest.
They expressed their concern during a two day collaborative meeting organized by the National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) held at Kabwoya sub county headquarters in Hoima. Annet Agaba, a tree planting coordinator for Kidoma Conservation Development Association told the meeting that NFA officials don't respond to calls when residents notify them about the activities of illegal loggers.
She explains that when the Community Forest Management groups entered partnership with NFA, the Bugoma forest was in a very good shape, but the laxity of NFA officials has fueled lumbering. Charles Byamuleme, a resident of Kyangwali Sub County accuses NFA especially the forest supervisors and police personally deployed to guard the forest for conniving with illegal loggers to cut down trees.
Stuart Maniraguha, the Budongo Range Manager, said the issue of illegal lumbering involves both residents and community members.
He said they are strengthening partnerships with communities and other stakeholders to ensure the reserve is protected and free from illegal activities.
Joan Akiza from National Association of Professional Environmentalists -NAPE called upon all the stakeholders to work together in order to prevent the cutting of timbers and charcool in Bugoma forest and promised total support as NAPE .