Civil society activists have renewed their call for the government to defend and protect Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

Joining the Save Bugoma forest Campaign and other environmental activists around the world to commemorate World Environment Day, Water and Environment Media Network (WEMNET) called for the cancellation of all illegal and fraudulent land titles in Bugoma forest and other protected reserves like Namanve, Nonve and Kitubulu.

In a statement, Godfrey Twesigye, the Executive Director, WEMNET called for verification of the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve area, saying the government should make public the leaked boundary survey report to show whether the forest land still exists.

Twesigye added that the intimidation of activists challenging the illegal giveaway of forest land with trumped-up charges to silence them must stop.

Speaking on the theme of the World Environment Day: “Land Restoration for Climate Resilience”, Twesigye called upon the government to ensure that all land on which Bugoma Central Forest Reserve sits, and other protected areas are urgently restored to their previous states including, evicting all encroachers, re-planting trees, and protecting the said forests.

“Instead of taking action to have the forest land restored to allow rejuvenation of the forest cover, those in illegal possession of forest land acting with impunity and working with those in authority have resorted to threatening and/or arresting and subsequent imprisonment of those speaking about Bugoma forest land grab,” Twesigye stated

According to WEMNET Uganda, the arrest and detention of various individuals coupled with constant deployment of armed security personnel to protect the Bugoma forest destroyers has not only led to consistent destruction of the forest, but it has also threatened conservationists from engagements in regard to defending and protecting the forest.

The group indicates that as a result of these actions, many conservationists especially those in Kikuube and Hoima District have since opted to remain silent and watch as the forest reserve is being destroyed for fear of being implicated or face flimsy charges of criminal trespassing and incitement to violence.

“Now accessing the forest to ascertain its status is almost impossible due to the presence of armed security personnel guarding the investments of the forest degraders and grabbers,” Twesigye said.

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