Bugoma Forest Boundary Reopenning Draws Mixed Reactions

2722 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
Gideon Tumwebaze, the coordinator Tulipona Veterans Association, who claim part of the forestry land in Nyairongo is however happy that the joint boundary survey veterans have long awaited, has kicked off.

The joint reopening of the Bugoma forest boundary in Hoima district has drawn mixed reactions from local leaders and residents neighboring the forests. Many residents fear they could be evicted in the process.



The exercise, which has been long awaited, kicked off last Thursday with community engagement and sensitisation in Kabwoya and Kyangwali sub counties.  Bernard Opar, the National Forestry Authority-NFA Boundary and Survey Specialist, says after the community engagement, the NFA team, working jointly with the district staff surveyor and private surveyors hired by Tulipona Veterans will move on ground to verify the forest boundary.

Tulipona veterans have since 2012 been locked up in a boundary dispute with NFA. Opar explains that the exercise that will last for about two months will involve surveyors re-tracing the boundary marks erected in 1932, when the reserve was being gazzeted.

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Stewart Maniraguha, the NFA Kisindi Sector Manager says unlike earlier surveys that only targeted particular sections of the forest; the joint survey covers the entire 128kilometers of the central forest reserve boundary to ensure no more disputes arise.


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However, the exercise has mixed reactions from residents. Some of the residents fear that they could be evicted, while other fear that they could restricted from accessing the forest where they have been getting local construction materials.


Others say the exercise will help bring out the truth on who is inside or outside the forest reserve. Omuhereza Agaba, a resident of Kaseeta in Kabwoya Sub County wonders whether he will still access the reserve for local construction materials after the boundary reopening exercise.

Benson Barigira, a resident of Kamata village in Kyangwali Subcounty fears that the forest boundary reopening could see eviction of some residents found to have settled or encroached on the reserve land. Bagira asks government to consider compensation for such people.

Francis Twesige, the Kabwoya Sub county LC 3 Chairman, says the boundary reopening exercise will help address issues that have pitted residents against NFA. He however says justice must be done to avoid what he called illegal eviction of residents, like in the case of Nyairongo, where he claims people were evicted in 2012, only for the land to be handed over irregularly to a rich man.


Hoima Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Ambrose Mwesigye says the survey intends to address all concerns related to the forest boundaries, once and for all. Mwesigye also allayed fears of possible eviction of residents, saying time will be given to those found within the reserve to vacate or harvest their crops peacefully.


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Gideon Tumwebaze, the coordinator Tulipona Veterans Association, who claim part of the forestry land in Nyairongo is however happy that the joint boundary survey veterans have long awaited, has kicked off.

Tumwebaze is optimistic, truth will be revealed on whether the veterans are within or outside the forest reserve.