Bugoma Forest Destroyed for Sugarcane Investment

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Bugoma Forest Biodiversity Destroyed for Sugarcane Investment

Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, and it received this name from the first explorers to Visit Uganda and among them include Sir Church Hill and others. This titled was due to the beauty that Uganda has from River, Lakes, Mountains, Forests among others.

From the conservationist community it is said that Uganda is most likely to lose this name from the mistakes that authorities are doing in giving out some of the biodiversity natural resources to the low earning investments like the sugarcane growing in some of these forests.

Few months back in 2020 the Ugandan high court took disappointing decision to allow the Hoima Sugar Company to destroy Bugoma forest for sugar cane growing and this company has shares in the Kinyara Sugar Works that is found in the neighboring District of Masindi.

Environmentally, this forest has been so vital to the region in offering the buffer corridor zone to some of the primates, birds, butterflies among others that would encroach to the communities lives and plants and hence helping in the reducing of the wildlife – human conflict in nearby communities.

Bugoma Forest is a buffer zone of chimpanzees that always move in the corridor between Bugoma forest and Budongo forest looking for the green pasture. The same forest has been so supportive to farmers in the region by attracting the season rain fall to the seasons of farming.

Though, the sugarcane company management promises to embark on the Ecotourism on the part of the forest taken the tourism fraternity are not yet contented whether this will be put in place as they claim to do so. The management promises to come up with the Eco – friendly lodge, walking trails and campsite and if this done the (tourism stakeholders) advocates that the local communities to be involved to have win-win scenario concept of tourism.

The Bugoma Forest is a protected tropical forest that is situated southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns, and east of Lake Albert, in the Hoima district of western Uganda. It was gazetted in the 1930s and came under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) in 2003. Its surface area is given as between 41,142 hectares (411.42 km2) and 65,000 hectares (650 km2).

It is one of a belt of extensive, lowland forests along Uganda’s western rift escarpment, that are believed to have been connected with one another and the Ituri forest in former times. The forest belt is situated between 500 and 1,650 metres and Bugoma is situated at between 990 and 1,300 m elevation. Regional rainfall ranges from 1 250 to 1,625 mm. Farmlands and regenerating vegetation fringe the forests, which includes Elephant grass and Hyparrhenia grassland.

The tree cover of the forest belt shows a tendency toward monospecific dominance. Early colonizing forest consists of a mixed forest with Alstonia congensis, Trichilia prieuriana, Khaya anthotheca, Celtis mildbraedii, and Cynometra alexandri, among others. The climax forest that develops afterward depends on the altitude.

From 1 000 to 1 200 m Cynometra alexandri is highly dominant (Uganda ironwood). Lasiodiscus mildbraedii and sometimes by Celtis spp. and Strychnos mitis sometimes dominate the understorey. Very large trees other than Cynometra alexandri occur, such as Khaya spp. and Entandrophragma spp.

Patches of characteristic colonizing species (e.g. Maesopsis spp.) mature alongside climax canopy species in a mosaic pattern in spaces left by the fall of large trees. Another type of climax community is the Parinari forest, consisting of almost pure stands of Parinari excelsa, associated in the understorey with Carapa grandiflora. Other understorey species are Craterispermum laurinum, Trichilia prieuriana and Pleiocarpa pycnantha.

Wildlife

23 species of mammal, 225 species of bird, and 260 species of tree are known to occur in the reserve. The forest is home to a considerable number of chimpanzees which have started to undergo the habituation process in January 2016.

Conservation status

The forest is threatened by illegal logging, and it is feared that it may succumb to settlement and agriculture. The situation is worsened by an influx of Congolese refugees, and burgeoning large-scale tea and tobacco farms on its outskirts that infringe on the reserve boundaries.

In March 2012 some 1,500 land invaders were evicted, but by December 2013 some of them were returning to start subsistence cultivation and pit sawing.

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