Rt. Rev. Archmandrite Constantine Mbonabingi, the UJCC Executive Secretary, says the giveaway of Bugoma forest doesn’t only affect the people of Bunyoro but the entire country as Uganda moves towards oil and gas production.
Joint Christian Council-UJCC has joined efforts to protect Bugoma Central
forest reserve from being destroyed by Hoima Sugar Limited for sugarcane
factory leased close to 22 square miles of the contested Bugoma Central forest reserve land
from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom for sugarcane growing for 99 years. However, the National Environment Management Authority -NEMA
found 13 of the 22 square miles, unfit for sugar plantation and recommended
their preservation since it’s a wetland and forest reserve.
As a result, the
Authority allowed Hoima Sugar factory to cultivate sugarcane on the remaining 9.24
square miles covering the grassland, establish an urban center on 1.26 square
miles, an eco-tourism centre on 1.97 square miles and restore 3.13 square miles
of the forest reserve. They also recommended the preservation of another 0.156
hectares for the cultural site and 6.17 square miles as a natural forest.
However, several conservationists have opposed
the move, saying the giveaway is not only a threat to the ecosystem and
endangered species but it is likely to hurt tourism activities, which are a
source of revenue for communities and the country.
Covering 410 square kilometers of a protected area and a stretch of forest
measuring 40 kilometers, Bugoma is a tropical forest in Kikuube district that
was gazzeted in 1932. It is endowed with 24 species of mammals, 465
species of trees, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130
species of moths.
The mammals include monkeys, chimpanzees, buffaloes, Uganda
Kobs and at times elephants. The forest reserve is a migratory route for wild animals and a catchment for
rivers that drain into Lake Albert, where oil has been discovered. It is against this background that UJCC has
joined the efforts to preserve the forest.
Rt. Rev. Archmandrite Constantine Mbonabingi, the UJCC Executive Secretary,
says the giveaway of Bugoma forest doesn’t only affect the people of Bunyoro
but the entire country as Uganda moves toward oil and gas production.
there is fear that oil and gas activities taking place in the Albertine Graben
will increase climate change effects through increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
and argues that forests such as Bugoma are needed to act as carbon sinks of the
emissions to avoid or mitigate the negative impact of climate change.
He revealed that as UJCC they intend to petition President
Museveni over the Bugoma Forest giveaway for sugarcane growing and want the
entire process halted.
//Cue in: “Ekibira eki tikiri…
Cue out:…Kiki ekiri muground,”//
Right Rev. Samuel Kahuma, the Bishop of Bunyoro Kitara diocese says Bugoma
forest has a lot to offer to humanity, which cannot be seen by a human eye
compared to sugarcane growing. He says the current development and investments
in ecotourism will be compromised by the destruction of the habitat.
//Cue in;”Niturwanira ekibira ekya…
Cue out:…muka bikozesibwa bita,”//
John Mary Odoi, the Climate Action Network Uganda Board Chairperson, says that
they are ready to mobile citizens to collect money and pay back Hoima Sugar
Company to spare the forest from gross destruction.
//Cue in: ”Kati Tugamba nti…
Cue out:…Sente tu sasule.”//
Andrew Byakutaga, the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Prime Minister, says the land that
was leased to Hoima Sugar is not part of Bugoma forest but the Kingdom’s
Ancestral land that is adjacent to the forest reserve.