Adjumani locals, leaders to meet over Zoka forest plunder

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi           

ADJUMANI. The residents and local leaders of Adjumani district are set to meet over the continued plunder of Zoka central forest reserve in Itirikwa sub-county.

The meeting slated to take place on Thursday will attract all the district stakeholders with the aim of finding a lasting solution to the illegalities taking place in the forest reserve.

The illegalities include illegal logging, illegal charcoal business and illegal timber dealings inside Zoka central forest reserve.

According to William Gabriel Isadru, the councilor representing Itirikwa sub-county to Adjumani district local government, the meeting which will also be attended by all the Members of Parliament (MPs) from Adjumani district will be held at Olwi village center, Zoka Parish in Itirikwa sub-county.

“This meeting follows the tireless efforts exhibited by the forest patrollers and vigilantes on issuance of reports on the high depletion rate of the central forest reserve given the presence of the responsible stakeholders. We therefore, call upon all nature loving individuals and entities to come and attend the meeting,” Isadru said in his invitation letter to all the stakeholders in Adjumani.

Some of the trees illegally cut for timber in Zoka central forest reserve.

William Amanzuru, the team leader Friends of Zoka, an organization established to protect Zoka forest reserve from being plundered said the meeting has been called by the local leadership to address the current plight that is ongoing inside Zoka forest.

“We as conservationists in Adjumani, especially the Friends of Zoka, noticed that these illegalities will continue unabated because of the estranged system of patronage politics that is taking place inside the central forest reserve. So, the intention is we need communities to discuss with their leaders to find the way forward; how can we stop this kind of illegality that has been taking place,” Amanzuru said.

“We also realized that there is no platform that coordinates the central action interest of this central forest reserve and equally East Madi Wildlife reserve that houses 90 per cent of Zoka central forest reserve. We are also trying to think that this could be the platform where the coordination factor can come in because we need to also understand what is the role of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) exactly, how much have they done and how much are they continuing to do, what is the role of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), how much have they done and how much are they continuing to do?” Amanzuru asked.

He further stated that looking at the reality where there is a fuel station just next to Zoka central forest reserve which is sitting on UWA land, there is a lot of development going on but all are unabetted.

“Then we also want the meeting to arrive at the question of where is the help of security in all these things because we have barracks around Zoka forest; we have the military barracks and police barracks, but all these barracks seem to be working independent of each other. They seem to be working parallel to conservation. So, we need to understand where is the way forward. Then also at the district level what is the district security committee doing in terms of enhancing conservation efforts around Zoka forest area,” Amanzuru said.

He said above all, they want to know what the members of the community are going to say since the matter is in their interest because the forest is a natural resource that defines the life of the people around it.

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