Kampala — Over 10,000 of the total 100,012 hectares of forest reserve in the eastern region have been cleared.
The National Forestry Authority (NFA) coordinator for law enforcement, Samwiri Rwabogo, said squatters illegally cleared sections of the forest to establish settlements and farm land.
Rwabogo said 80% of the depletion has been done on South Busoga forest reserve in Mayuge district.
He was speaking at a one-day workshop for timber dealers from eastern Uganda at Zamo hotel in Jinja.
The workshop organised by NFA was aimed at enlightening participants on its responsibilities and those of the district forestry officer in the timber industry.
"Two years ago, only 4000 squatters lived around this forest reserve, but following the presidential directive early this year that NFA stays eviction operations, the number of the squatters has doubled," said Rwabogo.
He said other forest reserves that have been depleted include Ngereka in Kamuli district, Bukaleba in Mayuge and Nalunga Mosi Mosi in Pallisa district.
He, however, said NFA had embarked on educating the communities on the importance of forests to their livelihoods.