The fight to save Bugoma Central Forest Reserve continues to gain momentum, the latest of such efforts being a petition addressed to the speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah signed by over 20, 000 people residing in over 30 villages from the districts of Kikuube and Hoima, home to the threatened forest.
The over 20,000 undersigned signatories are a representation of the concerns of over 50,000 local people including children, women, elderly, youth and others who live in Kikuube and Hoima districts local communities bordering Bugoma forest.
"We appeal to you as the Speaker of Parliament and the entire Parliament to use your oversight powers to immediately stop the ongoing destruction of Bugoma forest. This is important to save the lives of local communities and conserve our natural heritage.
"Bugoma forest is one of the few remaining iconic symbols of our life, the life of our children, and the children of our children and therefore it should be conserved and protected from the ongoing land grabbing and destruction.
"This petition serves to inform you that Bugoma forest, located in Kikuube district, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom is being exterminated by Hoima Sugar Ltd facilitated by commissions and ommissions of several actors including Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD), National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), National Forestry Authority (NFA), the Judiciary, the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), the Uganda Police Force (UPF), the National Physical Planning Board, Kikuube district physical planning committee and others.
The petition highlights that because of the illegal activities of Hoima Sugar leading to the destruction of Bugoma forest, the lives of residents are in danger. They also fear that Hoima Sugar which is backed by UPDF will annex their private land.
"Bugoma forest is our main critical biodiversity resource that enables our area to get enough rainfall for agriculture as a source of our food and income, local medicine and other environmental, social and economic values. This is why we are calling upon Parliament to use its oversight powers to protect and conserve Bugoma forest at all costs.
And with this petition, the petitioners want parliament to stop the destruction of Bugoma forest, open boundaries of the forest, investigate corruption in the give away of the forest, suspend all corrupt government officials, and for government to use its powers of land acquisition under article 26 of the constitution to save the forest and its catchment areas from land grabbers.
The petition with a list of the undersigned signatories is also backed by civil society organizations like Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Water and Environment Media Network (WEMNET), Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), ECOTRUST, Uganda Tourism Association, Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest and Tree Talk Plus among many others.
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