Uganda: Encroachers Clear 40 Hectares of City Forest

Most of them are casual laborers while others claim to be unemployed. But in just a fortnight, the 300 people who encroached on Namanve Central Forest Reserve in Bukasa, Kampala, have reportedly cut down 40 hectares of trees in the area.  In other reports, the forest in Wakiso district is part of 600 hectares, which have been grabbed by over 900 squatters, some of them claiming to be veteran soldiers.


National Forestry Authority officials said so far, 100 of 1,000 hectares of the forest reserve, have been cleared in Kirinya, Kito, Bukasa and Kasokoso areas. Part of the forest, that had trees, standing on it for a decade, has now become a construction site.


Temporary houses can be seen in most part of the forest while charcoal burning is a booming business in the area. While some said they were looking for means of survival for their families, other encroachers claim they were informed by officials from National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Local Council officials that the forest land was being leased out. The police have so far taken 15 people to court over encroachment and have been charged with criminal trespass and illegal activity but suspect that the people behind the act are politicians.


Other reports have surfaced that Namanve Central Forest Reserve will be cleared because two senior government ministers and the Uganda Land Commission authorized its clearance without following due process in an effort to build low-income housing and relocate the dwellers from Kisenyi, Mulago, Katanga, Kivulu and other areas in Kampala.


The Forest Supervisor at NFA headquarters, Mr Robert Mubokhisa, said forest reserves should be guarded by armed security personnel to keep away encroachers. “By the time you take action, a lot of damage has already been done, in addition to guarding forests, we need our own court to prosecute the culprits,” Mr Mubokhisa said.


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