Stakeholder Engagement Meeting Held

Although the primary role of ensuring that Uganda’s forest resources are properly managed rests with government, all stakeholders have a role to play. Improving governance of our forests is a task that requires the input and effort of all stakeholders at all levels.

On May 19 2019, Busoga Forestry Company (BFC) organized a meeting with Local leaders around Bukaleba CFR to address a number of issues including how BFC & community local leaders can work together through partnerships to ensure responsible forest management. In attendance were the Bukatube subcounty LC III chairperson, Area District Councilor, Local council I & II chairpersons as well as cultural leaders represented by HRH Chief Luba of Bunha chiefdom (modern-day Mayuge District).

Addressing the leaders, Mr John Ferguson, BFC’s Managing Director thanked the leaders for their contribution towards helping the company to implement additional community development programs. He noted that a large number of jobs have been created by the company highlighting the Resin tapping project that has employed over 600 people. BFC not only contributes to local community but also to the country at large. BFC has to-date supplied over 50% of poles used for electricity distribution. “It is however unfortunate that concrete poles have been used in the ongoing electricity distribution to Bukaleba area.”  He gave highlights of future development plans such as the pallet making line, mobile sawmill that will create a number of job opportunities for the local communities.

Mr Simon Kizza, BFC’s Environment & Social Manager highlighted the various community projects the company has implemented in  the 2018/2019 Financial year; 5 boreholes constructed and 5 rehabilitated, over 35km of community roads maintained and over 70,000 seedling given to community members among others. “Funds used to implement these projects come from the products the company sells but if what we sell is being destroyed, then even the boreholes will not be constructed” he added. “ We often reach out to different stakeholders including community leaders and neighbors of Bukaleba and Kachung CFRs in an effort to better understand how we can all work together to protect the forest resources.

The Area District Councilor, Mr Peter Tasibula mentioned that “we have a vulnerable community which is also very unskilled and therefore would like to thank management of BFC for its contribution towards improving livelihoods of community members”. He promised maximum cooperation adding the success of these projects is built on the strong cooperation between BFC management and communities surrounding the plantations.

Mr Oyugi Felix, National Forestry Authority (NFA) Supervisor - Bukaleba CFR noted that “Politicians have in the past used land as an avenue to win votes”. He urged leaders not to seek “cheap popularity” by promising them forest land but instead sensitize them about the dangers of using their land for sugarcane growing instead of food crops. Responding to why the 500ha have not yet been handed over to the community as directed by the President, he said “The land in question has not yet been approved as it the responsibility of the Parliament of Uganda through a formal process provided for in National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003 to give away forest land and not NFA.”

 

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