Activists now fear for Bunyoro forests
Posted Thursday, January 17 2013 at 02:50
The activists say the fresh calls to giveaway Mabira could trigger the donation of other forests in future.
Environmental activists in Bunyoro are worried about the fresh revelations by President Museveni to give away parts of Mabira Forest to developers, saying the move could in future trigger donations of other forests.
A Masindi-based pressure group, opposed to the President’s proposal to give away the forest to Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited, a Lugazi-based company owned by the Mehta Group, say Bunyoro forests could be next.
Mr Bbiira Kiwanuka Nassa, the group chairperson, fears that the Budongo Forest in Masindi and Bugoma Forest Hoima districts could be future targets since they are near Kinyara Sugar Works.
“We are disturbed by the unpatriotic return of the proposal to give our God given gift [forest] to a private developer and also worried about Budongo, given its proximity to Kinyara Sugar Works. It may attract similar demands to offer it for agronomic practices that are catastrophic to people,” Mr Bbiira said.
“Environment is irreplaceable and the adverse effects shall hit us now and the next generations. Let us not stand in the way of sustainable development under the pretext of investor promotion.”
The group is currently traversing the region campaigning against the destruction of the forests.
During the opening of the NRM caucus in Kyankwanzi on Saturday, President Museveni blamed the failure to get Amuru Sugar Factory started and his wish to give-away part of Mabira Forest for sugarcane growing on Members of Parliament.
However, legislators and environmentalists have warned the Mehta group to stay away from the forest, saying “Ugandans can survive without sugar but they can’t survive without oxygen or a green environment.”
Opponents to the Mabira project observe that the central forest reserve is home to 300 bird species and is a key part of the country’s eco-system.
In 2007, the Mabira give-away stirred up tensions, with protestors attacking people of Asian origin, killing one person in the process.