Youth coalitions from various organizations on Friday launched a crusade to stop the approved giveaway of part of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve for sugarcane plantation.
The Youth Go Green Uganda CEO Edwin Muhumuza said he and his colleagues from Oxfam and other organizations are dissatisfied with the move to give away parts of the forest reserve.
“Youth Go Green Uganda would like to table its dissatisfaction on the recent developments in regards to the stories that have been making rounds in media in regards to an ESIA report approved by NEMA for the giveaway of 9.1 Hectares part of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve to Hoima Sugar Limited,” said Mr. Muhumuza.
He stated that the National Environmental Act (NEA) 1995/2019 mandates NEMA to protect and conserve the Environment on behalf of the people of Uganda hence the giveaway contravenes the authority’s mandate.
They stressed that the forest with the surface between 41,142 hectares and 65,000 hectares is a habitat to varieties of wild life.
“It is a home to 34 species of mammals including 4 globally threatened mammal species with 9 mammal species listed under IUCN’s Red List that live within the Forest Reserve, including chimpanzees, Grey cheeked Mangabeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, the Blue monkeys, the Red tailed monkeys and the Vervet monkeys etc,” said Muhumuza.
Bugoma is estimated to host over 600 chimpanzees within the forest. Other mammals include Buffalo, Bush Elephants, Uganda Kob, Golden Cats and and Side-stripped Jackals.
There are also more than 257 tree and shrub species including 7 species that are Albertine Rift endemics, more than 12 species that are globally threatened and 14 tree species listed under IUCN’s Red List.
Bugoma Forest Reserve is also a home to 20 species of Amphibians including one species that is endemic to the Albertine Rift, 118 species of moths, 292 species of butterflies that include 4 species endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains.
There are over 225 bird species that have been recorded in the forest and these include several Guinea-Congo Biome bird species. Two of the noteworthy globally threatened bird species within the Forest Reserve include the Black-eared ground thrush and Nahan’s francolin.
“This makes the Forest Reserve a fragile ecosystem, if any action is to take precedence. The rich biodiversity within the forest, plays vital ecosystems services than Sugarcane plantation from provisional, regulatory, support and cultural services,” Ismail Hassan the youth Team Leader .
“The grassland that has been proposed for development has been a grazing land for buffalos and antelopes for decades that is why we the Young People of Uganda are defending this Tropical Forest Reserve and condemn this Act,” he added.
They appealed to President Museveni to intervene to avert the already witnessed cases of food insecurity, labour exploitation and increased poverty level among the sugarcane growing communities.