By Fred Kiva
Government Forestry body, National Forestry Authority (NFA) says it has made headway in fighting encroachment in Bugoma and Kasongoire Central Forestry Reserves.
The National Forestry Authority’s Range Manager, Budongo Systems, Stewart Maniraguha says about 62 families that had encroached on Kasongoire Forest in Kiryamyongo Village, Masindi district have voluntarily left, while in Bugoma, encroachers have been wiped out through continuous patrols and police and army deployments.
"NFA(National Forestry Authority) in collaboration with office of Masindi Resident District Commissioner have been sensitizing residents to leave the reserve and the recent reopening of the forest boundaries made it clear to them that they were inside the reserve. Even local leaders who were in the past gearing them, encouraged them to voluntarily leave last month," Maniraguha told The Kampala Post.
"For Bugoma, apart from isolated cases of illegal logging, we have contained the encroachers," he revealed.
The forest reserves found in the oil-rich Bunyoro sub-region have been under immense encroachment from neighbouring communities and some immigrants, leaving a trail of destruction.
Bugoma Central Forestry Reserve, one of the largest Uganda's forests in recent years lost about 5000hectares being cleared by a group of Veterans in areas of Nyairongo village in Kabwoya Subcounty, Hoima district.
This encroachment on protected areas in Bunyoro has been blamed on the growing population and increasing desire for land as many run to the region to strategically position them to reap benefits associated with the recent oil discovery in the region.
In a bid to fight forest encroachment and deforestation in Bunyoro, NFA has partnered with private people to replant trees in Kasongoire.
The oil discovery in the region has also triggered such efforts geared towards environmental protection and conservation by both government, the civil society and individual players, as environmentalists warn of disastrous effects in the oil region, if the plant cover is not protected.