By Adiga Julius
Conservation activists have rallied Members of Parliament for political support to develop strict policy frameworks to support sustainable nature-people-centered development and conservation in the country.
The conservationists rallied the MPs while meeting them under their Parliamentary Forum for Conservations and Sustainable Tourism (PFCST) ON Wednesday ahead of the Wildlife Day 2023 celebrations slated for the 3rd Friday in Toro District.
Mr.James Byamukama, the Executive Director at JaneGoodall Institute told MPs that nature’s contribution to people diminishes when humanity is alienated from nature.
He explained that political will is crucial in addressing human-wildlife co-existence, conservation, and management challenges.
HByamukamae cited the Government’s decision to allocate forest reserves for sugar cane plantations such as Hoima Sugar Works as detrimental to animal habitat and threatening the ecosystem resulting in human-wildlife conflict and other environmental injustices.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum who is also Bamba County MP Richard Gafabusa urged the civil societies that advocate for environmental conservation MIDs of the government to use the forum to voice their concerns which the government does not well cater in the effort to environment conservation.
“We need to work together to achieve what you want, for us we have the platform as Members of Parliament but we don’t have the facts, so coming together bridges that gap,’’ Hon Gafabufa said.
Bukimbiri county Member of Parliament Eddie Kwizera said that the absence of government in the conservation of forests is one of the causes of the reduction of the forest cover in the country.
“The absence of the government in conservation practically, is a big issue for Members of Parliament should be looking at, you cannot have forest cover from 54-12% it worries us,’’ Hon Kwizera noted.
He added that as MPs they should focus on the funding of conservation and the environment as a priority.
The woman Member of Parliament for Kyegegwa district Flavia Kabahenda called for the involvement of women in the activities of conservation because they can influence their husbands not to cut down forests for charcoal burning.
“Women are very influential,” So me when I don’t hear anything about them I get scared, you know that women fear forests and they will be very quick to clear them so that they can be safe, so now if are you not addressing them to tell their men to stop the destruction, to stop making charcoal, to stop making all these other distractions we are talking about then we are going talk to ourselves, they are the majority in the country them not being in the conservation journey is a minus for us,” Kabahenda she said.
Bulisa County Member of Parliament Allan Atugonza said that for the people and animals to co-exist they must be valued by the government like it’s for the animals in protected areas.
“A person came and told my community that one elephant equals 34 billion shillings and it’s a serious issue, people just hate them because now they are equating elephants to be more valuable than people this is where we are,’’ He explained.
He added that last week an elephant killed a person and injured another one who is still admitted to the hospital. Still, UWA has not even assisted in transferring the body from the mortuary to the home of the deceased causing disharmony because people fill that animals are valued more than them.
“This kills that love for conservation, you find a person fetching firewood you process them to the court,” what does it mean Hon Atugonza”?