Environmentalists under the umbrella of National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) yesterday celebrated their victory over the president’s 2006 Mabira give away.
This was during meetings between NAPE and environmentalists from Uganda, East African, Africa and Europe and the residents that live around Mabira forest. Talking to the residents, NAPE boss, Frank Muramuzi, who, together with Maama Mabira-Beatrice Anywar spearheaded the campaign to save Mabira said that they have a reason to celebrate because the struggle was not so easy.
“All the benefits that you are deriving from this forest would be no more by now if this forest was replaced with sugar cane as the president had wanted. We would not be getting the rain generated by this forest, the fire wood, and herbs. No tourist would be still coming here because this unique green and animals, birds, insects in it would be a myth,” Muramuzi said while addressing residents.
Muramuzi said that since then, NAPE has never stepped backwards in as far as conserving this forest is concerned by teaching the locals on the best was to sustainably use this forest just like they have done in other areas like Mangira community forest in Nakifuma.
“We are also working with people in Bunyoro Kingdom, in Jinja around the dam, in other forests like in Mayuge, in Kasese around Katwe, Lake Kamwege near Hima lime stone mining centre among others.
Talking at the same gathering, National Forestry Authority official, Christine Mugenyi said that, “I call this forest a survivor because even in the 1970s, president Amin had given away part of it for cultivation and a big part of it was cut.
This is why the trees on the right hand as you travel from Jinja are not as old and thick as those on the right. Shockingly, in 2006, the president, who fought so hard that this forest is restored, wanted it cleared.
Thanks to everyone who did what they could to save Mabira despite this victory however, the resident noted a number of challenges that the forest still faces, including; poor and weak government policies concerning forest reservation, less sensitization to the people around to know value of the forest.
They also noted that METHA’s sugar factory has greatly polluted the forest’s major River-Musamya in which he releases the untreated industrial waste.