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The Ugandan government has refuted reports from Oxfam International that it is working with UK-based global company New Forests Company (NFC) on land grabs for investments of commercial forest plantations
The minster of water and environment Maria Mutagamba said, “The insinuation of land grabbing by NFC is totally false. Central Forest Reserves (CFR) are gazetted areas held in trust by the government for the people of Uganda.
“This is the constitutional and legal regime, which successive governments have adhered to in Uganda.”
The minister clarified that Uganda’s National Forestry Authority (NFA) publicly invited applications from interested commercial plantation developers for partnership in commercial plantation developments in CFRs.
Along with thousands of others, the NFC applied to invest in the forestry sector of Uganda, with the specific intentions to establish and develop private commercial plantations under the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy, in accordance with the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act.
Subsequently, the NFA licensed NFC with 8,104ha of Namwasa Central Forest Reserve in the Mubende district, and 8,700ha of Luwunga Central Forest Reserve in the Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts.
Mutagamba explained, “The government established the PPP policy after wide consultations with all stakeholders as a means of attracting investments into the forestry sector and to support government efforts at restoring the degraded Central Forest Reserves, increasing the forest cover and biomass in the country, and ensuring a sustainable supply of forest products to the growing Ugandan economy.”
The minister added that the government is happy so far with the progress made by the individuals and organizations, who have, to date, planted approximately 45,000ha under the PPP policy.
Mutagamba concluded, “These formal land allocations are not land grabs and the government will not abdicate its constitutional obligation to protect Central Forest Reserves,” adding, “Such an insinuation can only stem from a neo-colonial mindset and is totally disrespectful of the people and institutions of the government of Uganda.”
Moses Kalisa Seruwagi