By Robert Segawa
The National Forestry Authority has appealed to the government of Uganda to pay off Mabira occupants and make it a one title block.
Mabira forest is 29974 Hectares and the occupants in the Enclaves are occupying over 4000 Hectares and the population keeps on growing which is exerting pressure on the native Mabira Forest.
The appeal was made by Tom Okello Obongo the Executive Director NFA during the launch of community Livelihood which is run by NFA with support from nature and Livelihoods program targeting communities around Mabira central forest reserve.
Okello added that Mabira is one of the protected areas in the country with indignant communities living in forest reserves since they were allowed by the colonial government at that time of gazetting settlements, so the population is growing, living nearer to the forest and this is one of the challenges the management is facing.
He therefore called upon the government to negotiate with the people to re allocate them elsewhere to reduce the pressure they put on the forest.
Okello further said that Mabira forest reserve is a prime area for Eco tourism like Budongo forest, Karinzo and Maramagambo reserve forests which are a good source of revenue.
He further stated that NFA can get the money to run the institution by developing Eco tourism activities in forest reserves and see how the authority gets revenue from non extractive business not extracting the forest by promoting tourism where people can visit the forest for weekend camping and take pictures in a good environment area with their loved ones and take advantage of being very close to Kampala and Jinja.
Mr Okello added that they have advertised for Eco tourism opportunities in forest reserves and have given offers to interested Ugandans to see how to promote tourism in a country central reserve forest.
He also sited the challenges of forged land titles and sell land to unsuspecting persons which brings conflicts and put injunctions in courts of law. So far,they have spotted over 100 tittles for cancellation.
Okello Obongo strongly warns corrupt officials of National forest authority that he wants zero tolerance for illegal activities by telling them that they have only 40 days to leave the authority.
During the launch tour of Mabira and meeting the beneficiary at Najjembe, William Olupot, Director Nature and Livelihoods says NFA have injected over 50 million shillings in projects aimed at getting revenue to the community.
The team toured some of the projects that included bee hive keeping, piggery project and chicken keeping around Mabira that were started by Nature and Livelihood in a bid to boost finances in the people living within Mabira forest.
Olupot adds that the projects are aimed at helping over 15 groups with over 250 community members who are also helping to change their attitudes to destroying the Forest and report those cutting trees illegally.