Most landing sites along Lake Albert, like Kaiso-Tonya, are desert- like and lack enough vegetation cover. According to Henry Irumba, the Chairperson of Kaiso village in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district, the residents tend to be affected by strong winds that destroy houses, running water and the rain is also rare. Speaking to Community Green Radio at his Home in Kaiso, Irumba attributed such challenges to lack of trees.

Irumba, like many other residents in the area, says although there has been various attempts to plant trees, they have been unsuccessful because of harsh climatic conditions that do not support plant growth.

However, Alfred Kyamanywa a resident in the area has beaten the odds. He embarked on planting Neem trees in his homestead and the trees are doing well amidst the harsh climatic conditions.
Kyamanywa says he has gone ahead to plant trees at the church he prays from in order to increase the vegetation cover.

“Many people come at my home especially during afternoon hours to look for sheds. This is because they lack sheds in their homes yet there are tree species that suit our environment.  Those who try to plant trees do not give them proper care and protection and are eventually destroyed by animals,” he stressed.

Kyamanywa, who is a member of Kaiso Women’s group, says he has gained more knowledge on how to protect the environment through Sustainability School program of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE).

“In Sustainability School Program, we are empowered to identify issues that affect our communities and how to find solutions. Lack of trees for sheds is a challenge in Kaiso and we have to find solutions,” he adds.

Kassim Agaba, another member, also says he has planted fruit trees and are growing well.

“I planted a few orange trees in my compound which I received from an NGO in 2014 and they are doing well. I have made sure that I put a strong fence around them and protect them from being destroyed in addition to watering them,” he said.

Many members of the group have adopted tree planting at homesteads to change the belief that the climatic conditions do not favor tree planting.
Betty Bagadira says she has given out Neem tree seedlings to her fellow members to plant at their homes in order to be role models in their community.

While meeting the members of Kaiso-Tonya women’s group at Kaiso-Landing site in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district at the end of June this year, Mr. Allan Kalangi, and the NAPE’s Sustainability School Program manager urged the residents to emphasize on planting trees their homesteads and also embrace establishing tree nursery beds as an economic venture.

Mr. Kalangi said they should identify the trees especially tree indigenous tree species that are favored by the harsh climatic conditions in the area and establish nursery beds to sell out to those who may need to plant in order to increase on vegetation cover.

“Tree planting is a good business where many people are getting millions of money. This can best suit this area because tree planting is a need to solve the challenges that come with aridity. It can also be alternative source of livelihood since you are experiencing reduced fish stock,” he said.

Story compiled by  PRECIOUS NATURINDA

Two NFA officials interdicted over illegal Timber cutting in Bugoma Forest Reserve, following NAPE’s intervention

Francis Madrama, the Kisindi Sector Manager at National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Bugoma Forest Supervisor for Kidoma, Paul Ocheng have been interdicted for participating in illegal timber cutting and abetting illegal encroachment on Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima District.
In an interdiction letter seen by Community Green Radio at the sector offices in Hoima yesterday, Michael Mugisa, the NFA Executive Director indicates that between January and May 2017 Mr. Madrama conspired with the area forest supervisor for Kidoma range to carry out massive illegal lumbering in Bugoma forest.

Situart Maniraguha, the range supervisor for Budongo systems, says the administrative action against the two officers, prompted by the several complaints that were raised during the stakeholders meeting that was organized by NAPE at Kabwooya sub county headquarters on collaborative Forest Management efforts to save the endangered forest reserve.

Last month, 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.

During the heated meeting, the charged residents blamed some NFA authorities of exposing whistleblowers which puts their life at risk.

 “We believe some NFA officials especially the patrols and forest supervisors have connections with those who carry out illegal activities and sometimes the power sows belong to them. When we give information to them, they immediately alert the suspects to hide instead of taking action. This has demoralized us as communities, Mr. Madrama is good at doing that" said Annet Agaba, a resident of Kidoma village in Kiziranfumbi Sub County.
The same communities identified individuals who subsequently appeared on Community Green Radio’s government show to pin NFA officials and environmental police of frustrating community efforts to save Bugoma forest.

Maniraguha says most of these community concerns triggered NFA management to launch  an independent investigation to protect the reserve that is threatened by the high rate of timber cutting and agricultural encroachment.

He says the investigations yielded results after discovering that Madrama through his Kidoma range supervisor Paul Ocheng had power sows in Kisaru and Wambabya areas. The power sows have since been impounded. “The two officers remain under our surveillance to deter any further illegal forest activities, but they are also under serious investigation by management. They face three charges that include abuse of office, participating in illegal timber cutting and abetting illegal forest activities,” noted Maniraguha.
NAPE has since taken concern about possible ways of protecting the endangered Central forest reserve in the Eco-sensitive Albertine region. Joan Akiiza, legal and Advocacy officer says NAPE will continue to collaborate with concerned communities to weed out such wrong characters who hide in the system to threaten natural forests.

Story compiled by Robert Katemburura