By Frank Kamuntu
Hoima: As a result of government’s silence on perishing natural resources, a number of environmentalists have remained uncomfortable among these including the group of activists led by John Robert Turyakira who dragged the Gov’t to East African Court of Justice in a bid to rescue the perishing Bugoma forest reserve which government handed over to foreign sugar cane investors.
In a suit filed by Environment Shield Limited and Turyakira before the court, “NEMA made the project approval without transparent, maximum and effective community or public participation or hearings in breach of the foundational principles of good governance, accountability, democracy, rule of law, transparency and universal human rights standards. The approval, therefore, threatens the area’s individuals, community’s and public’s universal human rights standards.”
The development came after another group of environmental conservation activists under their slogan, “NO TO DEATH OF FOREST” publicly and angrily came 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.
It is against that controversial background that TheSpy Uganda has picked interest to avail to you the beauty of Bugoma forest that should not leave Ugandan leaders including Omukama Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I since the forest lies in his Kingdom, King Oyo as a beneficiary forest’s eco-system and President Museveni as a first leader among others.
Beauty Of Perishing Forest
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).
It is one of a belt of extensive, lowland forests along Uganda’s western rift escarpment, that are 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. Farmlands and regenerating vegetation fringe the forests, which includes Elephant grass and Hyparrhenia grassland.
The tree cover of the forest belt shows a tendency toward monospecific dominance. Early colonising forest consists of a mixed forest with Alstonia congensis, Trichilia prieuriana, Khaya anthotheca, Celtis mildbraedii, and Cynometra alexandri, among others.
The climax forest that develops afterwards depends on the altitude. From 1 000 to 1 200 m Cynometra alexandri is highly dominant (Uganda ironwood). Lasiodiscus mildbraedii and sometimes by Celtis spp. and Strychnos mitis sometimes dominate the understorey.
Very large trees other than Cynometra alexandri occur, such as Khaya spp. and Entandrophragma spp. Patches of characteristic colonising species (e.g. Maesopsis spp.) mature alongside climax canopy species in a mosaic pattern in spaces left by the fall of large trees.
Another type of climax community is the Parinari forest, consisting of almost pure stands of Parinari excelsa, associated in the understorey with Carapa grandiflora. Other understorey species are Craterispermum laurinum, Trichilia prieuriana and Pleiocarpa pycnantha.
23 species of mammal, 225 species of bird, and 260 species of tree are known to occur in the reserve. The forest is home to a considerable number of chimpanzees which have started to undergo the habituation process in January 2016.
In March 2012 some 1,500 land invaders were evicted, but by December 2013 some of them were returning to start subsistence cultivation and pit sawing.