Ugandan minister of water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris has instructed the National Forestry Authority to stamp on all legal timber sold in the market in a move to reduce illegal timber cutting in the country’s forest reserves.

While addressing journalists in Hoima Western Uganda on Saturday January 13, shortly after his visit to Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, the minister said timber dealers have been given two weeks to get rid of all the timber in the stores after which government will start impounding all timber without stamps from the forestry departments.

“Any timber found in the stores without government stamp must be impounded in two weeks from now. Even those who are carrying out agriculture must be flashed immediately after harvesting this season,” the minister directed.

The minister also instructed the authority to impound all trucks found carrying timber from rare tree species like mahogany and Aningera (Enkarati) that are only believed to be found in forest reserves.

THREATENED: Severe human activity is putting Bugoma forest at the risk of extinction. NAPE and NFA are partnering to ensure the forest is not depleted. COMMUNITY GREEN RAADIO FILE PHOTO

The minister’s instructions follow reports of connivance to abet illegalities by some individuals in NFA and security that are mandated to protect forests.

Stuart Maniraguha, the manager for Budongo Systems welcomed the move saying it will extremely make it hard for thieves to find market for their timber.

The minister’s visit followed a scuffle between NFA officials and Hoima district leaders during a visit to Bugoma forest that led to the alleged assault of the NFA Kinsindi Sector Manager, Wilfred Twesige by the Hoima District Resident Commissioner,RDC, Steven Ekoom.

Tumwesige reported a case of assault at Hoima police station under reference HMA/6110/01/2018. In the case, it is alleged that Mr. Ekoom, accompanied by security and the Hoima district Chairman, Kirungi Kadir severely slapped Mr. Tumwesige. He says Ekoom was protesting his decision to impound a truck of timber said to have been harvested from Bugoma forest.

The Minister asked the NFA to work closely with the district leadership to ensure that the forest is protected.

In 2016, NFA opened the boundaries of Bugoma forest reserve that sits on 41,142 hectares to reduce on boundary conflicts and encroachers. Bunyoro Kingdom is in court with NFA claiming to own 5777 hectares of land under Block 2 of the forest reserve in Kyangwali Sub County Hoima district in Western Uganda.

NAPE has teamed up with National Forestry Authority (NFA) to harness sustainable management solutions to conserve the reserve. Last year, NAPE facilitated a stakeholders’ meeting that was attended by the communities through Collaborative Forest Management groups to find out challenges, threats and sustainable solutions to the management of Bugoma forest reserve.

Compiled by Precious Naturinda