By Frank Kamuntu
Hoima: Western Uganda’s massive Bugoma forest matters seem to be escalating every day as a group of environmental conservation activists under their slogan, “NO TO DEATH OF FOREST” have publicly and angrily come out to mobilize Ugandans, Companies, NGOs among other stakeholders to boycott Hoima Sugar Limited products that have since been branded as a major threat to Eco-system in the country.
Hoima Sugar was given nine square miles which were part of Bugoma forest to grow sugar canes, a move that has not gone well, especially with environmental conservationists, tourism enthusiasts and concerned Ugandans who value the need to conserve both natural and artificial resources aiming at retaining the beauty of their nation and curb climatic misfortunes.
According to Dickens Kamugisha and other activists of ‘Save Bugoma’ campaign, in their address to journalists over the weekend, said their efforts to control the foreign sugar company have not yielded any fruits hence mobilizing for a boycott.
“We have been left with no choice but to urge Ugandans, traders, banks, markets and the world at large not to buy Hoima sugar and other products from the company because owners have adamantly refused to heed to calls to desist from destroying the environment.”
In addition, Sam Musinguzi, a concerned citizen revealed that 1.8% of Uganda’s forest cover is lost every year and that in the past 20 years, 25% of the country’s forests have been cut down, although national leaders seem not to be concerned about the importance of conserving natural forests and other eco-systems.
“We can’t afford to lose such a tropical forest that is of great benefit to the country and the continent at large during such a time when we are advocating against climate change. It is a shame that someone wants to destroy a forest but thinks their children will have a bright future when the environment is destroyed. We can’t stoop so low like that,” Mucunguzi said.
The angry and hurting Mucunguzi added that it makes no sense for their lazy and greedy leaders [who are reported to be eating multi-billion bribes out of the Hoima sugar comapny] to be discussing eco-tourism when a forest which contributes greatly to tourism is being put down.
“Why should such a rare tropical forest go down for ridiculous reasons like growing sugarcanes yet Busoga region which has been engaged in the same business has not benefited much from the growing of sugarcane? We are mobilizing the public to boycott Hoima Sugar products and also isolate employees of the company,” he vowed.
NEMA recently cleared Hoima Sugar Limited to use the forest reserve for sugarcane growing when it issued a certificate of approval for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report.
The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns, and east of Lake Albert, in the Hoima district of western Uganda.
It was gazetted in the 1930s and came under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) in 2003. Its surface area is given as between 41,142 hectares (411.42 km2) and 65,000 hectares (650 km2).
Setting and structure
It is one of a belt of extensive, lowland forests along Uganda’s western rift escarpment, that is believed to have been connected with one another and the Ituri forest in former times. The forest belt is situated between 500 and 1,650 metres a.s.l, and Bugoma is situated at between 990 and 1,300 m elevations. Regional rainfall ranges from 1 250 to 1,625 mm.
23 species of mammal, 225 species of birds and 260 species of trees are known to occur in the reserve, the forest is a home to a considerable number of chimpanzees which have started to undergo the habituation process in January 2016.