Residents clear forest reserve to grow coffee
Posted Wednesday, January 2 2013 at 02:00
Environment. Residents of Karusandara Sub-county in Kasese District cut down Rwamuchakara Forest, which covers about 300 acres, to plant coffee.
The increased demand for coffee growing in Kasese District has forced villagers in Karusandara Sub-county to cut down a natural forest for agriculture.
Rwamuchakara Forest, which has been conserved for decades, is being cleared and coffee seedlings planted.
The reserve, which covers more than 300 hectares, was acquired by residents under their umbrella organisation, Karusandara Development Association (KADEA), recently.
The association’s chairperson, Mr Godfrey Kasozi Dembe, said they had decided to sacrifice the forest due to the rising market for coffee.
He said coffee would generate income and reduce poverty among the residents.
“We shall have a model coffee plantation in the district. For the next three years the community in Karusandara (Sub county) will be transformed,” Mr Dembe said.
Environmental conservationists have condemned clearing the forest.
The district natural resources officer, Mr Joseph Katswera, said the development may result in an environmental hazard as a big chunk of land will be left bare after being cleared.
“They will regret it in future. They will have good harvests in the first three or four seasons but the production will go down,” Mr Katwera said.
The district forest officer, Mr William Masereka, who visited the area, said the farmers ignored his advice to preserve the forest.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park manager, Mr Nelson Guma, said he had repeatedly advised the district land board not to give out the land before carrying out an environmental impact assessment aimed at safeguarding the nearby park.