Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Flyer Run for Nature 25th March 2018 by Association for Conservation of Bugoma Forest


We invite the media houses to this press conference for the launch of the second edition of Run for Nature in 2018, organized by the Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest on 25th March, in the recurrence of the International Day of Forests which is on 21st March.

Background about Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest (ACBF)
The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest (ACBF) is an environmental membership association, not for profit, registered in 2016 in Uganda (Hoima District), with the main aim of helping the protection and conservation of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve and surrounding areas in Hoima District. The Association is built on the experience of the Bugoma Forest Conservation Campaign which was launched in 2014 and among other activities we organized the first edition of Run for Nature in September 2014, when about 220 people run. The proceed of the Run was invested in a tree planting project of 3 acres inside Bugoma Forest reserve in partnership with National Forestry Authority.
The Association meets every year at the Annual General Meeting where members elect the governing body or Executive Board. The current chair person of the Executive Board is Mr. Costantino Tessarin.
The association relies on donations, sponsors of good will for meeting the costs of the activities and for this reason we have a fund raising campaign called “The chimpanzee go!” whereby handicraft items and t-shirts are sold at different selling point (particularly in the properties of Uganda Jungle Lodges) and the proceeds go to the Association. We also have an Italian cell based in Bologna which operates as a point of sensitization and collection of donations.
This year the second edition of Run for Nature has the objective of providing funds for the current main activities of the Association. We believe in the “magic of doing” and not in the “magic of talking”: as others talk but don’t do, us we are doing concrete things and we do it with very limited resources.
Specifically the projects we need to support are the following:
1)            Management of the public nursery bed. Open in July 2016, located in Nyakafunjo (Kimbuga Parish), Kabwoya Sub-County (Hoima District), it provides free indigenous tree species to the community around Bugoma forest where need is great. About 20 families have benefited for more than 7.000 trees in exchange with our monitoring, training on good practices, attention to protection of water strings and agroforestry. The nursery is also serving as the basis for the prospective tree – planting projects in the area. The nursery is employing 3 people.
2)            Chimp T-RAP Private Patrol. This is a private patrol project started in March 2017 on the occasion of the celebrations of last year International Day of Forests which was done in Mwera eco-tourist site in Bugoma Forest. A team of 5 people is enrolled under the Association to support the protection of the forest in collaboration with the staff of National Forestry Authority, which leads to proper observation in the forest and gain intelligence of the encroachers and any illegality. This project is very crucial, due to lack of sufficient patrolling staff from the government. The patrol made steps in tackling part of the recurrent illegal logging in Bugoma Forest. Some resources were also allocated for legal support for the cases open at Hoima Police Station, some concerning attacks (on 21th July 2017 and 3rd November 2017) and threatening violence against our team.
3)            Sensitization programme in schools. The Association is planning to start a sensitization programme with 3 primary schools in the area (Kisaru Primary School, Kaseeta Primary School, and Nsoozi Primary School), schools located in the communities around Bugoma Central Forest Reserve. The programme has the objective to prepare activities with children to explain forest biodiversity, conservation and ecotourism. Many of these children are from families of illegal loggers or labourers of illegal loggers.

Brief about Bugoma Central Forest Reserve
Bugoma forest in Hoima District, with 411 sq km of extension, located alongside the escarpment of Lake Albert basin, was rated 12 out of 65 forests surveyed in Uganda for biodiversity importance by Uganda Forest Department in 2002. From a scientific survey carried out in 2010, it is estimated that in Bugoma Forest there are many animals, birds species and plants to be protected and that it is also important because is one of the last remaining forests along the wildlife migratory corridor of the Lake Albert region, between the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (in the North) and the Semliki reserve (in the South). Bugoma counts a record of 267 species of trees, 18 mammals, 278 butterflies, 221 birds species. Among the mammals, the primates are abundant, with about 580 endemic and endangered chimpanzees, the endemic Ugandan mangabey, a large number of black and white colobus, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys. The Ugandan mangabey only remains present in Bugoma, as it disappeared from other forests in the region. Among other animals, Bugoma hosts a small population of bush elephants, golden cats, side-striped jackals.
Bugoma forest is a huge potential tourist destination along the Rift Valley circuit, yet a forgotten treasure of Uganda. Only the development of an organized “Ugandan mangabey trekking” could bring consistent revenues from tourism to the Government of Uganda.
However, there are many and systemic obstacles in the protection of Bugoma Forest. First of all, the natural boundary of the protected reserve let the forest be exposed to all sort of pressure in an area which is becoming highly populated and recurrently invaded by refugees and migrants. Indeed common crimes in the forest are occurring like: encroachment for farming or for charcoal burning; encroachment for cattle rearing with bush fire clearing; illegal logging of hard wood is huge threat.
Another set of obstacles is the political bias against the protection of the forest, by both local politicians backing encroachers and by the Bunyoro Kingdom establishment, who even attempted to clear the protected reserve back in 2016 and a court case is still open in Masindi against the National Forestry Authority.  It is common to hear local politicians saying that the “forest is overgrowing in people’s land” and that “Police should stop arresting loggers”.
The body mandated to protect the forest, National Forestry Authority, is not sufficiently staffed and organized for this hard task, leaving the forest often unprotected, which requires more concerted efforts.
Finally, in the Police of Hoima we noticed resistance in taking seriously or following up properly cases related to illegal logging and environmental crimes. For example, a huge crime like a mob attack to a forest patrol occurred on 3rd November 2017 with a policeman almost killed (Mr. Eric Mbaia) and the case up to date is not been followed up.
Another threat to the survival of Bugoma Forest is the prospective development of critical oil roads exactly inside and through the forest, while the oil refinery is planned to be built just on the North of the reserve.
Therefore the intervention and partnership with civil society and private organizations is and will be vital for the protection of the forest. The situation on the ground confirms the necessity to keep our project of the private patrol in cooperation with National Forestry Authority and the necessity to work more on the ground involving local communities in an organized manner.

Presentation of Run for Nature 2018: 25th March 2018 under the theme “Stop Abusing the Planet”
Run for Nature 2018 is the second edition of what we believe is the major environmental sport event taking place in Kampala, having the objective to sensitize over the forestry crisis in the world and to fund raise specifically for the project of the Association.
The event will take place on SUNDAY 25th March 2018 at 7.00 am and the venue is Plot 2B, Robert Mugabe Road Kinawataka – Mbuya Hill , Kampala (office of Destination Jungle Limited and head office of the Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest).
The day was chosen in concomitance with the International Day of Forest on 21st March.
The theme of this year Run is “Stop abusing the planet”: we will run for nature, believing that all of us, as individuals and as a society, should be entirely taking up the responsibility of the impact of our life style for the survival of our planet, which is suffering our abuses when we clear forests, we pollute air, water and the soil, we happily waste garbage and we invade all the environment, even those habitats which we should leave for other species to enjoy.
Participants in the Run can register for 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers run with prizes in different categories (women, men and corporate). The amount of the prizes is 1.600.000 UGX. Registration fee is 40.000 UGX for individuals and 250.000 UGX for corporate which allows 4 people to participate.
Registration points will be at the office of Destination Jungle, at Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), at National Forestry Authority and at the Café Pap.
In the run package participants will receive the official green t-shirt, thanks also to the support of Asiatic Sports.

Partners and sponsors of Run For Nature 2018
The target of Run for Nature is to raise a contribution of 10.000.000 UGX for the projects of the Association. This will be possible thanks to the mobilisation of partners, sponsors and Medias in the organization and in the registration. We are targeting participation by about 300 people.
During the run and after partners of Run for Nature will have the chance to display their reasons. The National Forestry Authority will run to advocate for more political attention and more resources for the forestry sector. Slow Food Uganda invites people to have a special healthy lunch, after the run, at Mulongo Catering Restaurant in Nsambya organized by the Slow Food Chefs Alliance Uganda with a fee of 25.000 UGX. Green Bio Energy (Briketti) will display alternative eco-friendly charcoal and it is amazing that after so many years of this friendly alternative the government and the public did not embrace the cause of alternative charcoal, but insists in extracting charcoal from forests like Bugoma.
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators will bring its members in the run and will run remembering that the protection of the forests and the environment is also in line with the promotion of eco-tourism as a key income resource for the country. The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Trust will also be present to bring the cause for survival of the endangered chimpanzees of Bugoma forest and Uganda as a whole.
The Uganda Scouts Association will run with the youth who are the future of Uganda, a young generation which is well educated to the civil responsibility and committed to “leave the world a bit better than the way it was found” (as the founder Sir Baden Powell said in his last speech to the scouts of the world). The scouts will also help in the logistic of the run.
A special thank to the Embassy of Italy and to the Ambassador H.E. Domenico Fornara for supporting the Run for Nature with the patronage of the Embassy of Italy. We are honoured that our environmental caused is embraced by the diplomatic representation of Italy in Uganda.
We would like to thank all the sponsors who made possible Run for Nature 2018. We thank them particularly because not many are committed in supporting environmental causes like our and this is encouraging. We thank Cassia Lodge, Cafe Pap, Highland Water, Asiatic Sports, Destination Jungle, Uganda Jungle Lodges, Tarpo Industries and Aerolink Uganda.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest launched the first private patrol program in Bugoma Forest in March 2017

The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest (ACBF) in 2017 started important projects in its effort to continue activities for the conservation of Bugoma Forest and the chimpanzees in Hoima District.
Particularly on 21st March 2017 in the occasion of the International Day of Forests which was organised by the Association and celebrated in Mwera Eco-tourist site of Bugoma, it was  launched the first program of the private patrol to help National Forest Authority in monitoring and curbing illegal activities. Especially from 2016 it was recorded a rampant escalation in illegal logging for hard timber (mahogany); illegal cattle grazing which lead to burning of large extensions of forest for pastures; and huge encroachment of a protected areas for agriculture. Certainly the conservation level was negatively affected by the intention by Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom to give away 30% of the forest for sugar plantation in favor of the investor Hoima Sugar Works. The matter seems being blocked to date, but the destruction which took place is still burning.
Chimp T-RAP Patrol team in April 2017
Therefore, the Association took the decision to enter into action with a team of five people paid under the project “Chimp T-RAP Patrol”. From 1st April our team is regularly providing patrol and gaining intelligence which is already bringing positive results.
Another project which is on and crucial in our efforts is the development of the public nursery bed started in 2016 which is providing indigenous seedlings and tropical trees to those institutions and farmers interested to make contract to extend their tree cover for purpose of Agroforestry and the protection of water sources. The nursery is the only current relevant indigenous tree nursery found in the Bugoma Forest surrounding areas.
Between 2016 and 2017 eco-tourist activities were initiated and promoted in Bugoma Forest, particularly targeting to see the endemic Ugandan Mangabeys.
It came to our attention that UNRA is planning to develop heavy traffic tarmac roads inside Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, including the Mwera –Kaseeta road which is the heart of eco-tourism and biodiversity. The pressure group of the Association is working on having the concern tabled at the relevant institutions.
The Association is having its second Annual General Meeting on Friday 26th May 2017 at the office in Robert Mugabe Plot 2B Kinawataka-Mbuya, Kampala at 3:00PM, where corporate and individual members will elect the new board and discuss the way forward.
You can support the Association by becoming a member, by making a donation or buying the specially made items under the Chimpanzee Go” fundraising initiative

Friday, August 26, 2016


The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest expresses concern over the increasing insecurity in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve and the continuous threat of destruction.

On Sunday 21st August 2016 a group of about 300 people led by a surveyor entered Bugoma natural forest claiming to be opening the boundaries of the land for Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, according to a title issued inside the protected reserve. The activity started in Nyakatete village from Kaseeta moving towards Nyakatete in Nsozi. By Wednesday they have cleared a length of about six kilometers that are ten metres wide, using chainsaws cutting everything including big mature natural forest trees.
The area is well known to be the habitat of the internationally endangered and protected chimpanzees, plus endemic Ugandan Mangabeys.

The National Forestry Authority responded on Thursday 25th August (after 4 days) by sending a police enforcement of three pick up and 20 policemen of the Environmental Protection Police Unit, who stopped the activity of clearing; however the police force withdrew on Friday and clearing restarted. On 23rd August the National Forestry Authority sent a communication to the Commissioner Land Registration, Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development requesting to cancel the illegal Freehold Certificate of Title issued in the name of Omukama of Bunyoro Kitara and, subsequently, the leasehold issued to Hoima Sugar Factory Limited. 

The affected area is a large portion of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, the Muhangaizima block for about 8.000 hectares. Considering that there are less than 5.000 chimpanzees left in Uganda (of which about 500 are believed to be in Bugoma Forest) and considering the huge amount of natural rain tropical forest under threat of destruction, this is the biggest environmental disaster in Uganda for many decades and possibly at international level. 

As a result of the escalation of insecurity and destruction, eco-tourism activities in Bugoma have been halted and nature walks cancelled, with losses for the State. Tourism is one of the top priorities for the Government of Uganda, while sugar cane expansion is not and deforestation implies losses of potential tourist attractions. Meantime, there is an escalation of illegal logging as the patrol by National Forestry Authority is no longer in place for security concern.

On 23rd August the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, wrote a communication to Ministry of Water and Environment, informing that a petition signed by 105 representatives of tour operators from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) requested for urgent interventions to protect Bugoma Forest, the investments in eco-tourism and tourist accommodation. In the letter, the Minister says that “the reserve is one of the few remaining habitats and migratory routes for the endangered chimpanzees and other key wildlife species”, therefore requesting the urgent intervention of the Ministry.

We kindly urge all stakeholders involved to act responsibly, put into consideration that the forest is a public and international matter, which largely affects the future of the tourism sector as well as the local communities.

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest, Uganda Wildlife Society, Uganda Society, Destination Jungle LTD, Uganda Jungle Lodges LTD are expressing their concern and the condemnation over the current attempt of giving away a relevant block of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima District.

An organized group of people has tried to encroach on the central part of the forest, Muhangaizima block claiming a total of 8.000 hectares of tropical forest under the mandate of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. The intention is to grade down the forest for the purpose of establishing sugar cane plantation. This situation is ongoing since February 2016 and the pressure is mounting.

This affected area is the central part of the gazetted Bugoma Forest, which means that encroaching is equal to compromise the survival of Bugoma Forest as a whole. Bugoma Forest is one of the most important forests in Uganda for biodiversity, which is explained in the geography of the Alberetine Rift Valley, crucial for the development of tourism in Uganda. It is home to the endangered and internationally protected chimpanzees; it is home to a large number of primates’ species like the endemic Ugandan mangabeys and it is a birding destination. To destroy the forest is equal to destroy as well the right of the wildlife and birds to survive. There are only less than 5.000 chimpanzees remaining in Uganda of which about 500 are believed to live in Bugoma forest.

The Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest has started in 2014 an enrichment tree-planting project for the regeneration of degraded areas. Even this project is under the target of the encroachers and the project cannot be currently accessed, leading to loss of the resources invested from the work of the association in collaboration with the CFM group of Kyangwali.

On 17th April 2016 a group of 10 people from Kisaru Trading Center attacked 4 staff of National Forestry Authority with pangas and iron bars, seriously injuring them as they were on patrol during the day near Rwera site. Phone calls and intimidations are made daily to the personnel of the State, the Police, the National Forestry Authority who are doing their best to carry out their duties.

At the beginning of 2016 eco-tourism activities have started in the forest at Rwera, near the area which is currently encroached. Moreover, the National Forestry Authority has issued in 2015 new licenses to operate eco-tourism to private investors. There are also in-coming private investments in accommodation (the construction of Bugoma Forest Lodge by Uganda Jungle Lodges LTD) and in research on biodiversity like on the chimpanzees (by the Jane Goodall Institute). All this has the potential to make Bugoma Forest in the near future one of the new relevant tourist attractions in Uganda, with trickle down mechanisms for local communities where poverty and lack of jobs and investments are rampant.
All these future developments will be affected by the criminal behavior of who is trying to push forward selfish interests detrimental to the environment and in full illegality, since Bugoma Central Forest reserve is a protected forest under the State.

1.    We urge those who are encroaching to give up any attempt to break the law. The excuse that no boundaries have been ascertained is only the cover for a clearly illegal activity. Everybody, from the NFA to the local communities is very much aware about the forest’s boundaries.

2.    We urge a full investigation over the responsibilities of these illegal operations in Bugoma Forest and we recommend that any damage so far caused to the environment and to the State be compensated and that justice prevails.

3.    We urge those firms like Hoima Sugar Works LTD or individuals who are willing to deal or invest in sugar cane cultivation to do so legally, in areas where it is possible to carry out such an investment, by legal purchase of land and being far from this ecosystem of important biodiversity where wildlife is present. There are other areas available and more suitable than a protected reserve which is a tourist destination.

4.    We urge the leaders of Hoima District and Bunyoro kingdom to be responsible toward the development and the sustainable future of the area, considering that already more than 70 % of forest cover was lost in the last 20 years, which has affected climatic change and the livelihood of the people, losing important resources for the future and for tourism, creating a mechanism of permanent poverty. Leaders should now take care of the remaining forests and engage in forests regeneration, not in forest destruction.

5.    We urge the leaders, the private sector and the public sector to avoid, condemn and resist the temptation of corruption which will further exacerbate the development in the region by helping selfish interests to prevail over the respect of the law and over the interest of the local communities.

6.    We urge the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Government of Uganda and the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda to take action and to closely monitor the rampant escalation of illegality and violence in Bugoma Forest by increasing the presence of security and military personnel in the area to protect the staff and those civilians who are engaging in activities for the protection of the forest.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Eco-tourism Activities in Bugoma Forest

March 2016: From the Campaign to the Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest

Yes, we decided to move forward. The Campaign for the Conservation for Bugoma Forest was launched in 2014 and it brought awareness about the importance of protecting Bugoma forest in particular and forests in general. We have been few people steering the whole process and making sure that our concern was always translated into plans and concrete actions.
The Chimpanzee Go! T-shirts
With one of the worst deforestation rates in the world, with politicians and communities requesting for commercial plantations of eucalyptus and pines (and showing no interest for the reforestation of indigenous trees), with a widespread disregard of any law and legality in regards to the protection of nationally protected forests, with increasing climatic change and worsening habitat disruption, with attacks to Bugoma forests orchestrated by politicians in the aftermath of the general elections of February 2016, in Uganda there is certainly need for people and organizations investing time and commitment for the environment and especially in favour of forest protection.
In the occasion of this year 21st March 2016 International Day of Forest, Destination Jungle LTD and Uganda Jungle Lodges LTD decided to move forward and register the Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest, a new membership association. The first Annual General Meeting will take place on 13th May and will decide and determine the leadership for the newly born association. All those individuals and organizations who have been supporting the campaign and participating to the cause will have their chance to contribute in a more organized and effective manner. As an association, we will be able to be recognized as stakeholders in the fight for forest protection; we will be able to receive donations from supporters and to initiate project proposals, to mention few points. Therefore, the membership campaign starts immediately until the day of the General meeting.
Meantime these are the progress which we have seen by 2016.
First of all, eco-tourism activities have started for the first time in Bugoma Forest, thanks to the strong commitment of the leadership of National Forestry Authority in the belief that eco-tourism is a direct, positive contribution in conservation. In February we experienced ourselves a number of nature trails (previously used by the illegal loggers) which are leading to monkeys and chimpanzees habitats. Particularly, we could see a group of Uganda mangabey, which is endemic to this forest.
Furthermore, tourists can be protagonists of active reforestation by planting trees in the site allocated for regeneration as a result of the project launched by Run for Nature 2014. This activity sees the engagement of the community through the collaborative management group of Kiangwali.
Bracelets and necklaces produced by Daniel Zenji
We developed promotional materials for tour operators which were distributed via the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators. The association must keep focusing on the promotion of eco-tourism to make local and international visitors aware and, therefore, bringing tangible changes to Bugoma forest. Exactly what we discussed in theory with the local communities can become a practical and visible change. Here is the source for guides as well as for patrolling teams.
Secondly, the “Chimpanzee Go!” initiative is ongoing. Ugandan artist Zenji Daniel made specifically for the campaign pieces of necklaces and bracelets with the symbols of the chimpanzees. This handicraft is for sale in order to fundraise for the three objectives of the campaign: proceed with the tree-planting in Bugoma; support law enforcement for the protection of the forest (which is facilitating monitoring exercises and the presence of the law); to give incentives to the community organized in the collaborative forest management groups for the purpose of maintaining forested cover in the area and reducing pressure into the protected reserve. Under the initiative, t-shirts were also made portraying the chimpanzees and the campaign logo. These items so far are displayed in the two lodges of Uganda Jungle Lodges (Ishasha Jungle Lodge and Bwindi Jungle Lodge) and advertised to all the tourists travelling with Destination Jungle LTD. More support is needed.

For this year 2016, we welcome the newly born Association for the Conservation of Bugoma Forest.