MPs Demand Cancellation of Illegal Land Titles on Forest Reserves

Members of Parliament have tasked the Ministry of Water and Environment to withdraw more than 1,000 land titles illegally created on various forest reserves across the country.

It follows a report presented by the Shadow Minister for Environment, Christine Nakimwero Kaaya who is also the Kiboga District Woman MP on Tuesday.

In the report, Kaaya noted that natural forests in central reserves that include; Bugoma Forest, Mabira Forest in Lugazi, Kisisiro and Namazina Forests in Buikwe, Namyooya, Namamve in Mukono, Kiwula, and Wamaale in Kayunga District have been encroached on.

Others are; Mbarara Central Forest Reserve, Bugomba and Kitubulu in Wakiso, Lutoboka Central Forest Reserve in Kalangala, Lira Central Forest Reserve, Rwamunda and Walumanyi in Mpigi, Luweero and Butebe, Kabarole, Kiboga and Masaka reserve forests are all endangered.

Kaaya blamed the rampant encroachment on selective justice against encroachers by the National Environment Management Authority – NEMA.

The Bubulo East County Member of Parliament, John Musila accused the government of perpetuating environmental injustices such as tree depletion for commercial charcoal burning and lumbering activities before proposing a contingent fund to help private woodlot developers.

Jane Avur Pacuto, the Pakwach District Woman MP observed forest depletion needs urgent reversal because the vice has resulted in adverse effects of climate change which impacts negatively on women.

MPs also demanded a special audit into the process of acquisition of rights to manage central forest reserves and called on the Government to account for funds appropriated by Parliament to purchase tree seedlings for Ugandans.

The Speaker of Parliament Anita Among directed the Minister for Water and Environment to present an action report within seven days lapsing on Tuesday, 24 January 2023, on the recommendations and prayers cited in the report.

Data from the Ministry of Water and Environment indicate a shrinking of Uganda’s forest cover from 24 percent in 1990 to 10 percent by 2017. By 2002, Uganda is reported to have lost 736 square kilometers of forest cover, double compared to 297 square kilometers lost in 2001.

In the Financial Year 2022/2023, Parliament approved 628 billion Shillings to facilitate the implementation of interventions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This included re-surveying and marking 6,200 square kilometres of boundary to increase national forest cover from the current 12.4 percent to 15 percent, and restoring 850 square kilometers of wetlands on forests.

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