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Activists start campaign to save Bugoma forest

A section of the highly deforested Bugoma forest. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Members of the civil society and the tourism fraternity have launched a campaign to save Bugoma forest reserve after the court upheld the giveaway of part of it for sugarcane growing

Mr Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment [ACODE], said the campaign will help protect the environment.

“This campaign is meant to save part of Bugoma forest that was illegally given away to Hoima sugar works. Not preventing this would, in the long run, bring about tragedies like a change in the weather pattern and decline in tourism revenues since it is one of the forests attracting tourists” Mugyenyi said.

Recently, the High Court in Masindi dismissed an application in which National Forestry Authority [NFA] sought to block the Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, from clearing part of Bugoma central forest reserve in Kikuube district.

While speaking to the press last week, Benedict Ntale, the Vice-Chairperson Association of Uganda Tourism Operators, said that the destruction of part of the forest would affect Uganda’s tourism revenues.

Vice-Chairperson Association of Uganda Tourism Operators, Benedict Ntale argued that the destruction of Bugoma forest would affect Uganda’s tourism revenue. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“Bugoma Forest has been in existence since 1932 and its existence has been of great value in conserving nature and contributing to tourism revenues. This, therefore, means that its destruction would affect tourism revenue returns,” he said.

Additionally, both parties, the civil society and tourism fraternity, recommended that Bugoma Forest be protected as it is no matter where the exact boundaries are, local communities and their leaders be part of the process of development, the Ugandan government respecting international conventions and protocol on environmental conservation to which the country is a signatory.

Since August 2016, a legal battle has been ongoing at Masindi High Court, with National Forestry Authority accusing the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and Hoima sugar works of illegally claiming the Muhangaizima block of Bugoma forest (about 8,000 hectares)

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