Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee have been asked by Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah to investigate the destruction of the Bugoma forest after parts of it were assigned for sugarcane farming.
Bunyoro kingdom gave Hoima Sugar Limited 22 square kilometers of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Kikuube area for 99 years in 2016. A Memorandum of Understanding and a lease agreement were approved by the kingdom to allow sugarcane farming in a portion of the forest reserve. The forest covers approximately 40,000 hectares.
The National Environment Management Authority-NEMA, on the other hand, determined that 13 of the 22 square miles were unsuitable for sugar cultivation. They were in a wetland and forest reserve that needed to be protected.
As a result, Hoima sugar was given permission to plant sugarcane on 9.24 square miles of grassland, build an urban center on 1.26 square miles, develop an eco-tourism center on 1.97 square miles, and restore 3.13 square miles of forest reserve. A cultural site will be preserved on 0.156 hectares, while a natural forest will be preserved on 6.17 square miles.
Following a petition to the speaker by environmentalists under the Save Bugoma Forest Campaigns 2020 forum, led by their lawyer and member Bashir Twesigye, Oulanyah stated the topic will be debated in the house on Tuesday next week and investigated by the Parliament committee.
According to Oulanyah, the trees are being cut down at a time when a tree-planting initiative is underway.
The Save Bugoma Forest Campaign has also demanded a probe of government and business sector officials implicated in the Bugoma giveaway.
They also want the government to implement Article 26 of the constitution’s compulsory acquisition powers to protect Bugoma forest and its catchment areas from land grabbers.
While sugarcane is crucial, Twesigye believes that a forest-like Bugoma should be maintained rather than exploited. He demanded that an independent survey be carried out to determine what remains of the forest.