3 November 2006

Uganda: State Action On NFA Board Unacceptable


The reported government plot to dissolve the National Forestry Board (NFA) early smirks of unacceptable malicious intent. Even the most casual observer of latest trends in this sector will remember that the NFA has been under pressure from quarters of the executive arm of government to accede to some not entirely transparent demands land leasing to investment firms.

The land on which Mugoye, Banga and Towa natural rain forests stand in Kalangala together with a section of Mabira Forest is at the centre of this controversial matter. NFA's board has been disinclined to give a green light because as they say these natural resources are core conservation forests with a wealth of bio-diversity.

As we have said before, there is nothing wrong with giving potential investors incentives but this must not be at such a high cost.. Government is definitely aware of the risks associated with mowing down forests. We have heard sufficient warnings from the sister National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) about the dangers lurking in the shadows of unrestrained deforestation.

Other private environmentalists have also made it clear that rapid environmental degradation that has been going on for the past decade is directly responsible for the change in our weather patterns. The level of Lake Victoria itself has dropped on account of the destructive activities of man along its catchment areas.

Pastoral communities in the Midwestern cattle corridor are suffering the effects of a biting drought which has exposed thousands of herds of cattle to waterborne disease as they forage around to quench their thirst and death resulting from hunger - due to inadequate pasture . Water shortages have been reported amidst fears of worse times.

Note that most parts of the country should now be bathing in a heavy second season rain but the meteorological department is forecasting incidents of scattered showers and sporadic rains across the country.

Farmers almost all over the country recorded poor harvests off their first season, resulting in the stiff prices Ugandans are now confronting in the food marketplace. There are many examples to illustrate the gravity of degradation to our socio-economy.

The cumulative effect of unregulated land use is clearly evident in today's hostile micro environment, which is already contending with the wider impact of global warming. The arguments for development at the cost of such central natural resources like forests need review. It is unfortunate that the government has preferred to destabilise an organ (NFA Board), whose counsel is needed now.

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