For three years, Panos Eastern Africa with funding from CARE International in Uganda embarked on a quest to strengthen media, citizens and CSO’S involvement in forest conservation through the ‘FOREST’ project. On 31st August, stakeholders in the forest sector including; journalists from partner media houses (KKCR, Spice FM, Observer, Voice of Kamwenge, NBS TV, Radio Kitara, KFM, Kasese Guide Radio, BBS- Masindi); sector leadership (NFA, PFCC, PNRC); CSO’S (JESE, ACCU, ACODE, EMLI, Environmental Alert, MIRAC); academicians, local government representatives, community based forest monitors among others: gathered at Hotel Africana to witness what would come to be known as the first ever ‘Parliamentary Forum on Forest Accountability’ in Uganda.
Some of the key issues affecting the forest sector were brought to light through informative presentations.
Mr. Paul Buyera, the NFA spokesperson provided a brief on the current status of forests in Uganda as well as the challenges encountered in forest management such as;
- unclear forest boundaries
- a lack of integrated approaches for the management of forests
- illegal land leasing in forest reserves
- inadequate funding
- uncontrolled movement/migration of people
- increasing demand for a source of livelihood
- interference by some politicians to mention but a few.
Participants were also treated to a stunning presentation of a research study conducted by Dr. Ronald Naluwayiro (ACODE) on the legal framework governing the forestry sector in Uganda (in comparison to Kenya and Tanzania) as well as the a report on the issuing of illegal land titles in Forest Reserves in Uganda presented by Mr. Felix Kafuuma (ACCU).
The Parliamentary Forum on Forest Accountability (which many agreed should be conducted annually to keep tabs on forest resources) not only equipped leaders and decision makers present with knowledge required for implementing change in forest resource management, it also allowed various stakeholders in the forest sector to share their thoughts and opinions.
For example; Prof J.B Okullo, an academician and lecturer at Makerere University’s School of Forestry, Environment and Geographical Sciences, suggested that a research and innovation fund be set up to facilitate research into alternative energy resources such as biogas in order to ease pressure on natural forests for firewood and charcoal.
Hon. Namuganza Persis, who was also the guest of honour at the forum, informed participants that the illegal land title issued in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve had been cancelled.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and the Parliamentary Forum for Climate Change pledged to table the suggestions raised before the parliament for implementation.
Details of these presentations and the forum can be found here: