Bishop Warns Against Destroying Elipas Forest

1631 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
According to Bishop Abura, tempering with the forest without proper planning will not only affect the Tepeth, but the entire community of Moroto and its neighborhood. He suggests that the trees be harvested in a phased manner spread over years to avoid disaster.

Rt. Rev Joseph Abura, the Bishop of Karamoja Diocese has warned National Forestry Authority (NFA) against destroying Elipas forest.  Elipas forest is found on top of Mt Moroto in Akariwon village in Tapac parish in Tapac Sub County in Moroto district.
 
 
Last month, NFA published adverts calling on interest people and firms to submit bids for harvesting trees from Elipas forest. The move drew angry protests from Tepeth community leaders and their people.
 
They led a procession through Moroto town, saying the countries will impact directly on their livelihood. Now, Rt. Rev Joseph Abura, the Bishop of Karamoja Diocese has thrown his weight behind the Tepeth.
 
 
According to Bishop Abura, tempering with the forest without proper planning will not only affect the Tepeth, but the entire community of Moroto and its neighborhood.  He suggests that the trees be harvested in a phased manner spread over years to avoid disaster.
 
 
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He is also opposed to the decision by NFA to harvest the trees without involving key stakeholders including the Tepeth community.
 

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John Lotyang, the Moroto District Natural Resources Officer concurs with the observations of the Bishop. According to Lotyanga, there is need to assess the impact of harvesting the trees on the community.
 
 

He also notes that several trees in Elipas forest are very old and leaving them standing will be wasteful especially when they dry up.  If harvested, the tree can fetch over Shillings 300million, according to Michael Okot, the NFA Manager Karamoja sub region.
 
 
The Moroto Resident District Commissioner, Peter Ken Lochap has lashed at the bishop's observations and urged religious leaders to stay away from political influence. He is particularly angry that the church helped transport the protester.
 
 
The significance of Elipas Forest to the Community
 
Elders in Tapac say the forest holds fortunes for the community. Engiroi Loburio, one of the Tepeth Elders, says whenever there is drought, elders climb the mountain and invoke their gods under the trees for rain.
 
Loyep Loyemare, another elder says they always perform rituals in Elipas whenever calamity strikes their community, adding that most people get medicine for different ailments from the forest.



The Tepeth also believe that their god lives on top of the mountain and it's in the forest that the Tepeth high priest (Kenisan) is ordained after spending six months of initiation. Elipas is a Tepeth word that means a flat-nice-looking area, where elders derive their powers to lead young people.



Like the Pokot in Amudat district, cutting trees is a taboo among the Tepeth. The Tepeth live on top of Mt. Moroto with a few households on the slopes.

 

Mentioned: nfa karamoja diocese