April 15, 2024
Special Reports

Bugoma forest destruction worsening climate change

The ongoing degradation of the green belt across two districts in mid-western Uganda is exacerbating the adverse impacts of climate change. Conservation experts and environmental activists express concern about the destruction of Bugoma forest, emphasizing its significance in the face of climate change and impending oil and gas extraction in the Albertine region. The forest plays a crucial role in absorbing emissions from oil production activities, but it is currently being cleared for monoculture, particularly sugarcane cultivation.

The destruction of Bugoma forest is viewed as a disaster by environmentalist David Kureeba. He highlights the forest’s role in sequestering carbon emissions and laments the government’s inaction in the face of ongoing destruction. Kureeba emphasizes the global importance of preserving such forests, drawing parallels with the rain received from the Congo basin.

The environmental impact extends to the potential increase in global temperatures due to Bugoma Forest’s destruction, hindering efforts to achieve the target of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Kureeba urges the government and stakeholders to prioritize conservation, referring to forests as the “lungs of the world.”

Concerns are raised about the delayed release of the report on the boundary opening of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, with suspicions of influence from encroachers and eco-tourism investors. Environmental expert Christine Kaaya suggests that these investors may be corrupting land officers to stall the report’s release.

Kaaya further notes the challenges posed by illegal landowners and the need for collaboration between the Ministry of Water and Environment and the Ministry of Lands to address the situation. She highlights the potential conflict of interest among investors seeking to turn the forest into national parks for revenue generation.

Amid ongoing oil extraction activities and other developments, there are warnings about the generation of significant carbon emissions. Dennis Obbo from the Ministry of Lands states that the boundary-opening exercise was completed, and the report submitted to the cabinet for consideration.

The Bugoma Central Forest Reserve boundary opening, initiated in November 2021, remains entangled in legal disputes and claims from various parties. The forest, spanning Hoima and Kikuube districts, faces threats from individuals, companies, and the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom. Protracted legal battles between the National Forest Authority (NFA) and entities claiming portions of the reserve underscore the challenges in preserving this vital ecosystem.

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