The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) has asked Government not to go ahead with the planned give away of part of Mabira Forest.
Government plans to give 7,000 hectares of the 32,000 hectare forest to Sugar Corporation Company of Uganda Limited, SCOUL, owned by the Mehta Group of companies to expand its production.
NEMA Executive Director, Dr. Aryamanya Mugisha, says Mabira Forest reserve is a critical forest reserve, vital for its ecological functions and that if given away it would be impossible to replicate.
The NEMA boss says that unlike other forests, Mabira cannot be converted because they serve different ecological functions. As a natural resource, Mabira serves as a water catchments area, and a habitat for biodiversity.
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Mugisha says no environmental impact assessment has been carried out on the forest reserve. He says this is in breach of the Tree planting Act.
The Act provides that an environmental impact assessment be carried out and that alternative land almost equivalent in value in size and ecological composition be allocated in case of a give away. The Act further provides that the Districts housing the resource which in this case are Kayunga and Mukono should present a resolution, which is then debated by Parliament before any decision is taken.
Mabira Forest Reserve is the largest block of moist semi-deciduous forest remaining in the central region of Uganda.