The arrest yesterday of three top managers at the National Forest Authority and of several members of the NFA board has set the stage for the forest authority to follow their colleagues at the Uganda Wildlife Authority into similar chaos as was caused there by the appointment of an unqualified board and subsequent wrangles over that board’s demands for more allowances and benefits, before subsequent managements were suspended and sacked – all matters now before court.
The NFA managers are accused of having illegally sold land in a national forest reserve and the arrest of board members would indicate that they are suspected to have either participated or illegally sanctioned such an alleged sale, but the implications for NFA are much wider.
Across the country are encroachments on national parks and game reserves evident since the troubles at UWA became public knowledge, and in the case of the NFA too, their internal problems now is bound to have a renewed onslaught set in with illegal logging and forest encroachments across the country, now that the attention of the NFA is looking inside instead of defending their forests.
Across the region is deforestation a major problem as it often affects crucial ‘water towers’ and no government, other than the Rwandan government, has shown the necessary determination to protect this quintessential resource from further illegal logging in the way it should be done. In Uganda some years ago government wanted to give away almost a quarter of the Mabira rain forest to create sugar cane plantation space, an attempt with was thankfully defeated through determined protests and intense lobbying, while in Kenya the Mau forest saga continues to create controversy while the envisaged evictions have been half hearted and as often alleged discriminatory and selective.