Story by the 52 years Old Arnest Businge Chairperson of Kyarusozi Sub-county Local Government, Kyenjojo District. , ,

It is on record that as a Chairperson I have been concerned about destruction of forests in Kyarusozi Sub-county and Kyenjojo district as a whole. I have played a role in reporting and demanding for action on illegal forest activities. But up to the end of 2013, I realized that my efforts were all being wasted because the both the NFA staff and the District Forestry staff were not responding appropriately. With pain I felt defeated because I had nowhere else to appeal and so the destruction went on and on.

Towards, end of 2013, I told the same story to the CARE and JESE team who came with a Muzungu who was conducting research on community based monitoring and were promising to do something about the on-going forestry destruction. I felt a ray of hope that probably the forests would be saved. But I immediately recalled that in 2012, JESE supported a group of community based monitors who reported several cases to forestry authorities who did not provide solutions to the destruction of forests. My ray of hope started fading again! I asked the CARE and JESE team, how differently will you do it this time so as to save the forests? They said the Muzungu would provide workable recommendations after his research. I accepted to wait hesitantly and give them a benefit of doubt!!!

Around January 2014, JESE came again and introduced 13 CBMs to the Sub-county leadership. Since that time JESE and the CBMs have conducted massive community sensitizations on the need to conserve forestry resources. I’m also aware that this time round words have been turned into action; several people found cutting timber illegally have been arrested from the forests and handed over to police. Actually, there has been a drastic reduction on reports coming to my office regarding forestry destruction. In July 2014 alone I got only 2 reports on illegal activities but which were quickly handled by the monitors.

Let me tell you, from 2013 I had stopped any discussions in council regarding forestry issues because I thought it was a waste of time; but now I have lifted the ban because I’m impressed with what is going on. In order to empower the CBMs I intend to bring a suggestion of integrating CBMs facilitation allowance in the budget when the executive committee starts discussing budget re-allocations. Since the 2014/15 budget cycle is complete, I will start the process of budgeting for monitors early during the 205/16 budget cycle. This if is accepted it will probably motivate the CBMs to work more devotedly..

I have also noted that the CFM groups that are doing good work in the protection of forests resource are more linked to NFA than the Sub-county leadership and yet they need our advice and support in issues related to forestry and beyond. Last year, I raised the issue of lack copies of forestry policies and laws at the Sub-county, I appeal to the JESE and CARE to avail these documents so that we talk from an informed point of view. Something good is happening! We just have to keep it up.

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