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Bugoma Forest Boundary Opening Report Stalled in Cabinet, Sparks Conservation Concerns

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Conservationists are urging the immediate release of the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve boundary opening report, conducted by the government in August 2022. The survey aimed to resolve the longstanding dispute over illegal titles and occupants in the tropical forest reserve spanning Kikuube and Hoima districts in Midwestern Uganda.

Despite the survey’s completion over a year ago, environmental activists claim that the crucial report remains undisclosed. They assert that ongoing destruction of the reserve is escalating, posing environmental risks.

Various entities, including Hoima Sugar Limited and MZ Agencies, along with individuals, are asserting ownership of portions of Bugoma Forest Reserve, further complicating the dispute.

Kiboga District Woman Member of Parliament and conservationist Ms. Christine Kaaya emphasizes the urgency of releasing the report to address illegal occupations and titles. She alleges possible bribery and undue influence on the report, calling for transparency to resolve the dispute.

Ms. Kaaya, also the shadow minister for environment, underscores the importance of protecting Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, highlighting its role in absorbing emissions from the nearby oil area. She criticizes the discriminatory enforcement of laws, claiming that influential figures involved in the dispute evade presidential directives.

Ministry of Lands spokesperson Mr. Dennis Obbo states that the survey report was submitted to the cabinet after completion. He clarifies that the cabinet will guide the next steps based on the report.

The Ministry of Water and Environment received a directive from the cabinet in 2019 to open Bugoma Central Forest Reserve boundaries amid a prolonged dispute. The move aimed to address the conflict pending in the Court of Appeal.

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The boundary opening, initiated in November 2021, sought to establish and align boundaries. This action occurred within the context of a legal battle where the National Forest Authority (NFA) challenges the land title issued to Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and the subsequent allocation of disputed land to Hoima Sugar Limited.

The NFA’s lawsuit targets Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Omukama Solomon Gafabusa, Hoima Sugar Limited, and the Commissioner for Land Registration. The case is awaiting a hearing and determination in the Court of Appeal.

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