Government has warned communities against encroachment on central forest reserves and other government lands. The State Minister for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyocwiny says this is the leading to the rampant deforestation. It comes following reports by the National Forestry Authority that forest cover in the region is reducing. “We people who are encroaching on forest reserves, we can be as lucky as of now but the next day the law catches up with you, you’ll not like it. So why don’t you concentrate on your own land?” she said. She was speaking at an event organized by MTN Uganda in partnership with National Forestry Authority to restore 50 hectares of Enjeva Central Forest Reserve in Ajia Sub County, Arua District. Enjeva is one of the 37 Central Forest Reserves within West Nile range that was gazetted in 1951, but has since lost 200 out the total 738 hectares over the years due to deforestation. “Let’s be conscious, there is plenty of land, therefore no need for you to encroach on NFA or any government land. Normally, the law will prevail so I really want to caution that”, she cautions. The MTN Enterprising Unit General Manager, Ibrahim Senyonga explains that, the reforestation project dubbed, “This is my Home’ campaign aims at restoring the lost forest cover in the country. The National Forestry Authority Range Manager for West Nile, Robert Owin challenged communities to join in the restoration of forest across the region. He says, “Matters of environmental conservation must be taken seriously by everybody because we are all aware that when a catastrophe happens and it has come as a result of mismanagement of nature, it does not segregate but affects all of us. And we want to warn anybody who is disturbing our environment to stp with immediate effect because when disasters come, they will not only affect the people cutting down the trees but even the people who are destroying the environment”, he said. Meanwhile, Arua District Local Government through the Environment and Natural Resources Departments has drawn plans to protect environment especially forest cover in different sub counties. Rampant unauthorized sell of land was one of the factors identified by Arua District Chairperson, Alfred Oku’onzi that contributes to destruction of forest cover.
COVER PHOTO: A number of forests in Uganda face a new crisis especially due to the escalating encroachment. Courtesy photo.