Halting illegal encroachment into Uganda’s Bugoma forest

The Bugoma Forest Reserve, situated in the Hoima district in western Uganda, is threatened by deforestation driven by agricultural encroachment. In order to prevent these illegal developments from going at the expense of the forest and the rich biodiversity it harbors, partner organization NAPE works closely with local communities and the National Forestry Authority. This ensured timely action when an area within the reserve had been marked for clearance in favor of a sugar cane plantation. By starting a court case, they were able to halt the logging, thus securing almost 6000 hectares of forest, about 15 percent of the entire reserve (41.144 hectares).

Problem

Although the Bugoma forest in the west of Uganda has been designated as a reserve and thus enjoys legal protection, the area is nevertheless under pressure due to logging and encroachment of agricultural activities. These illegal activities go at the expense of the habitat of important plant and animal species, such as chimpanzees, elephants, hornbills and turacos.

In August 2016, sugar manufacturer Hoima Sugar Limited marked almost 6000 hectares of forest to make way for a sugarcane plantation. They had wrongfully leased the land from the regional Bunyoro Kingdom, while it falls under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority (NFA).

Approach

With support from IUCN NL, partner organization NAPE (National Association of Professional Environmentalists) takes action to safeguard vital ecosystems in Uganda. To this end, NAPE works closely with local communities and NGOs, to monitor the developments in the forest, and with the National Forestry Authority (NFA), which is responsible for the management of the Bugoma forest reserve. Together they are able to address abuses before the forest is irreparably damaged.

Result

Thanks to the alertness of people in the forest, it was timely noticed that an area within the reserve had been marked to make way for the sugar cane plantation. NAPE pinpointed that the plot of land was wrongfully leased to the sugar manufacturer, while it falls under the mandate of the NFA. NAPE and NFA joined forces with a group of lawyers to bring the case to court.

The court ruled in their favor. NAPE and its partners thus prevented clearance of the area, securing 5779 hectares of forest, about 15 percent of the entire reserve (41.144 hectares).

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