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Mukihane forest boundary opening to start this month

The process of opening the boundary of Mukihane central forest reserve in West Division, Hoima City is set to start before the end of this month.

The revelations were made by Badru Mugabi, the Hoima Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in an interview with The Albertine Journal on Wednesday.

Located on Butiaba road and Kihomboza northeast of Hoima City, the hill, which is commonly known as Wampanga forest, has had ownership disputes since 2010.

The dispute is among Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and residents who are alleged to have encroached on the land and National Forestry Authority (NFA).

Many people know it as a forest for the kingdom, but NFA in an interview last year said it was given to the cultural institution in 1994, to harvest trees as a token of appreciation when kingdoms were restored by the government.

The dispute has aided encroachers to degrade the forest in the name of planting trees and clearing the land for cultivation.

NFA insists that Mukihani, which measures 3,619 hectares, with a boundary line of 66 kilometres, is among the 12 forest reserves under their management.

Close to 60% of the reserve is under cultivation by residents and the rest is occupied by scattered tree farmers, planting invasive tree species.

NFA said the kingdom in the past illegally allocated land to the people, who degraded it while impacting on flora and fauna.

The kingdom which has severally chased away NFA officials whenever they try to intervene, says it is one of the restituted properties to the kingdom by the government

Mugabi said his office has been inundated with complaints which prompted the security committee to call for a meeting over the aforesaid.

The conflict reached its height recently between locals and one of the firms leased by the kingdom to plant trees with each party claiming ownership of the same land..

As part of the solution to this ownership impasse, Mugabi, told The Albertine Journal that he met the affected residents in Kakundi and Parajwoki wards the previous day over the matter.

During the meeting, he said, they agreed with the kingdom to open the boundaries for the same piece of land to identify the clear boundaries for each party.

Mugabi said a meeting between residents and the kingdom will be held on Thursday, where the surveyor will be officially unveiled to all stakeholders.

“There are some illegalities we have observed so far. Some people got freehold land titles and yet they are supposed to be leaseholds,” he said.

Badru said after the boundary opening, they will see how to regularise the ownership, cut-off area that is under community control and adjust land titles.

The Albertine Journal could not independently verify whether NFA will be on the team conducting the exercise.

In the past, residents complained of the threat of being displaced by landslides due to increased degradation up the hill.

In November last year, rains caused the movement of eroded particles of soils and stones from the hill that destroyed farmers’ crops.

Some residents then attributed it to the spraying of herbicides which were sprayed by farmers to clear the vegetation in a bid to expand economic activities up the hill.

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