The Assistant Chief Administrative Officer (ACAO) in charge of Bujenje County in Masindi District Richard Kiiza, warns that Uganda may in the near future be devoid of forest cover if deliberate action is not taken to reverse the rampant forest depletion in the country.
Kiiza sounded the warning while opening a one day stakeholders meeting from Masindi district at Kabalega Resort Hotel in Masindi Town on Friday.
He observed that the rate at which Ugandas forest cover is disappearing is worrying and called for concerted efforts towards conserving and replacing the already depleted forests to avert the looming disaster in the country.
During the meeting organised by Community Conservation and Development Agency (CODECA), a non-governmental conservation organisation, Micah Asiku, the agency executive director revealed that Ugandas forest cover has reduced from 24 percent in 1990 to around seven percent currently largely due to the open access to community and private forests.
Asiku said that there is a need for a system that will promote sustainable forests management in the country. He said this can be done through registering forests outside protected areas and supporting communities adjacent to these forests to form community land associations that will manage these forests.
Asiku told the stakeholders who included political leaders, chairpersons of area land committees and technocrats from Masindi district that CODECA had held consultations with sub-county and district leaders and the members of the 16 villages neighbouring community forests in the Alibertine region to get their consent on undertaking the management of these forests.
The forests include: Alimugonza, Ongo, Tengele, Motokai, Kyamasuka, Bineneza and KaitampisiMasindi in district.
Asiku added that interim institutional structures for the management of community forests had been established and application forms to form community land associations have filled and submitted to the registrar of land titles.
Speaking during the meeting, Willy RujumbaKahigwa, the former Bunyoro Kingdom minister for forests said the idea of protecting private forests will help restore the depleted kingdoms forest cover.
However, he expressed dissatisfaction over the renaming of some of the proposed community forests with non-indigenous names that he said is eroding Bunyoro culture and heritage.
The meeting aimed at updating the stakeholders on the agencys progress of the programme aimed at promoting conservation of community forests in the Albertine region funded by Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECO Trust).
Source: www.mknewslink.com a greater western Uganda news website