Civil Society Task NEMA On Bugoma Restoration As World Celebrates Environment Day

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) subscribing to the Save Bugoma Forest Campaign (SBFC) have written to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) requesting for a copy of the approved restoration plan for Bugoma Central Forest Reserve (CFR).

The SBFC, an umbrella body, is made up of the forest host communities, civil society and private sector entities whose main objective is to defend Bugoma CFR located in Kikuube district in Western Uganda from land grabbing, sugarcane growing and oil threats.

In a press statement released as part of their activities to mark World Environment Dat, the SBFC also wants NEMA and the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to ensure that Hoima Sugar Limited (HSL) halts all its destructive activities in Bugoma CFR and restores the forest.

Save Bugoma Forest Campaign campaigners fault NEMA for authorizing Hoima Sugar activities in Bugoma forest in August 2020 by issuing an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

 With the approval from NEMA, Hoima Sugar set up a sugarcane plantation on 9.24sq. miles, developed an urban centre on 1.206 sq. miles, set up an ecotourism site on 1.97 sq. miles, land for a cultural site covering 0.156 sq. miles; and left a natural forested area and set up nature trails on 6.17 sq. miles.

"While NEMA allowed HSL to grow sugarcane in some parts of Bugoma forest, reports by the SBFC in January 2021 and investigations by NEMA in September 2022 showed that the company had grown sugarcane in the area reserved for ecotourism purposes. The area reserved for natural forested purposes was also degraded," the statement from SBFC revealed.

Dickens Kamugisha, the chairperson of the SBFC, said that while the forest host communities and the public are highly interested in the restoration of Bugoma forest, NEMA has not publicly shared the restoration plan that Hoima Sugar submitted to them. 

Hassan Mugenyi, the chairperson of the SBFC local task force adds, “We do not know if any restoration plan for Bugoma exists. If it does, we were not consulted on it yet as people who have lived near Bugoma forest for a long time and have enjoyed benefits from the forest, we are interested in the conservation of the forest. We can also share information to inform restoration of the forest.”

The SBFC now recommends that NEMA should publicly share a copy of the approved restoration plan for Bugoma forest by HSL, stop the ongoing destruction of Bugoma forest and that the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD) makes public the boundary opening report of Bugoma forest.

The recommendation is that government should ensure that the conservation of Bugoma forest is promoted under the Forest Partnership that the government signed with the European Union

in November 2022 and that  Bugoma forest should be turned into a national park to better conserve the forest and protect the environment.

Retired UPDF Officer encroaches on Nyamigisa wetland in Kikuube District

By George Businge

Residents in Nyamigisa Village, Butoole Parish, Kyangwali Sub County in Kikuube district have raised a red flag over the continued destruction of wetlands in the area.

The residents say Nyamigisa wetland which is a crucial source of water in the area is vanishing as several people have invaded and occupied it for rice growing.

Nyamigisa wetland, measuring approximately 100 acres, residents say has encroached on a high-ranking retired Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) officer who secured its ownership.

He has since started renting it to people who are growing rice and tomatoes at three hundred thousand shillings per acre every season.

Bosco Kato and other residents are concerned that the continued destruction is going to worsen the water situation and hence the need to protect it.

Kato explains that people who are growing rice and tomatoes are using herbicide sprays which are putting their lives at risk.

Robert Balimunsi, one of the area leaders, says that he is concerned about the education of the children who spends all the time chasing birds from rice.

The locals reported the matter to the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner, Amlan, who assessed the situation and issued a one-week ultimatum for the people who are growing rice and tomatoes in the wetland to vacate peacefully.

Tumusiime says that it is very unfortunate that Ugandans have remained adamant and continue to destroy wetlands.

Sam Tumukunde, one of the people occupying the wetland, told Earthfinds that they are doing this to earn a living because they are poor and have nowhere else.

According to the environment officer of Kikuube district, there are only three bigger gazetted wetlands in the district that include Wambabya, Nguse and Kafu.

The rest are small tributaries which people are taking advantage of to destroy something that requires concerted efforts to preserve the water sources from further destruction.

OIL & GAS: Kikuube Farmers Embrace Cooperatives

The Kikuube district farmers are embracing cooperatives as one of the ways to benefit from the oil and gas opportunities in the region. 

More than 50 members of Bugambe Parish Grain Producers Cooperative Society Limited have registered a cooperatives.

They are looking at adding value to maize and then supply it to the market created by the emerging oil and gas industry in the district. 

The Kikuube district Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Amlan Tumusiime while officiating at the launch of Bugambe Parish Grain Producers Cooperative Society encouraged the farmers to formalize their business and add value to their farm produce. 

Like Tumusiime, Peter Banura, the Kikuube district LC 5 chairperson, advised the farmers to concentrate on value addition and boost their household income.  

Julius Busiinge, the chairperson of Bugambe Parish Grain Producers Cooperative Society Limited says that the purpose of upgrading from an association to a cooperative is to be able to collectively fight poverty. 


Bunyoro Kingdom Launches Operation To Counter Bugoma Cultural Site Plundering

As the world continues to face pressure from the destruction of the environment and other natural resources, cultural sites have not been spared.

In 2016, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom leased 22 square miles of Kyangwali ancestral land to Hoima Sugar to grow sugarcane but with a condition of preserving the cultural sites in the area.

In August 14, 2020, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) approved the Kyangwali mixed farm land project located on plot 216 block 2 Buhaguzi, Kyangwali sub-county, Kikuube district with a condition of preserving the fragile ecosystems and the cultural site.

Apollo Rwamparo, the second deputy prime minister and minister for tourism Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom says that it is unfortunate that the cultural site at Muhangaizima is being plundered by loggers and charcoal burners in broad daylight.

Rwamparo says that as a result of the vast destruction of the Kyangwali cultural site, the Kingdom has suspended all activities in the area and ordered all people to leave with immediate effect.

The minister for natural resources Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Jackson Byaruhanga says that some Kingdom officials are conniving to destroy the much treasured cultural site with support from Kikuube district local government.

As the team from the kingdom conducted the operation some people blocked the road leading to the epicenter of destruction so that they don’t impound their charcoal and timber.

However, some resident who asked to be recorded off camera says that some people claim that the forest that has remained behind after Hoima sugar cleared its part was given to them for fighting for the land.

Joseph Twegonze, a forester and formerly working with Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom explains that many valuable trees have been felled down for timber and charcoal including Wabugia Ugandaisis that was used to produce covidex.

Part of the 3 square kilometer Muhangaizima cultural site has been encroached on by both Hoima Sugar and already planted with sugar cane.

4 illegal power saws, pit swaying machines, charcoal and Timber were impounded by the Kingdom officials.

Meanwhile Rwamparo lashed at the ministry of lands which is currently opening up Bugoma central forest reserve boundaries who have decided to sideline the Kingdom in this important activity.

Although the latest forestry report indicates that forest cover in the country has increased from 8% to 12%, Bugoma central forest reserve has reduced in size from the usual 41,144 hectares to less than 37,000 hectares by 2019.

According to statistics from the Kikuube district physical planning unit, the 2019 report indicated that Bugoma forest had reduced by 11% due to increased pressure as a result of the influx of people due to the oil developments in the country.

Bugoma Forest reserve is one of the most important Forest reserves in Uganda and is 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. There are also over 257 tree and shrub species including 7 species that are Albertine Rift endemics.

More than 12 tree species are globally threatened and 14 tree species are listed under IUCN’s Red List.

Refugees In Hoima, Kikuube Districts Receive Multi-Billion Development Project

By George Busiinge

Refugees and host communities in Hoima and Kikuube districts have recently received a multi-billion humanitarian, peacebuilding and development project.

The four-year project worth Sh60 billion dubbed Mutual Inter-Related Resilience Program was launched by the Ola Hallgren, the head of program cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden.

The Project is funded by Act Church of Sweden and will be implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Action against Hunger and Lutheran World Federation.

Speaking during the launch, Ola noted that the project will help in improving the livelihoods of both refugees and host communities.

He commended Uganda for hosting refugees and having good policies which have helped to provide a good haven for the refugees from different countries.

He noted that Uganda currently hosts 1.3 million refugees while Kyangwali hosts 14,700 refugees. He says that donors will continue to give support to Uganda to improve on the livelihood of refugees and host communities.

Professor Augustus Nuwagaba, the project consultant commended funder of the project and warned the project implementers against the misuse of the funds.

He says that several projects have been funded with huge monies but the funds end up not befitting it targeted group due to poor management of the project.

Peter Karslsson Sjogren the Act Church of Sweden’s Africa Director says there is need to exercise transparency and accountability as they implement the project.

Moses Kapuroni, the Kikuube district chief administrative officer says the settlement is facing several social challenges and called for more support to improve on the lives of the people.

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