Residents of Kigulya cell in Kigulya division, Masindi municipality have petitioned the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) seeking to block an eucalyptus tree planting project by people said to be from the National Forestry Authority (NFA) on the slopes of Kigulya hill.The residents contend that the project if allowed to continue will put their lives at danger.
Cleophas Alinaitwe, the lead petitioner says that eucalyptus draws a lot of water from the soil which they fear will drain the soil of the neighboring areas which will lead to reduced crop yield creating food insecurity and increase poverty levels in the area.
Alinaitwe adds that the slopes of Kigulya hill have been a source of herbal medicine and firewood to them for a long time which will no longer be the case if the indigenous trees are replaced with eucalyptus.
He further adds that the practice of using herbicides by the people planting the trees is likely to weaken the soil on the hill which may cause landslides that may have severe impact on them in the feature. Alinaitwe further adds that the chemicals are also washed by water which they fear could be contaminating their water sources.Alinaitwe says they want the office of the RDC to investigate the matter and ascertain whether the people planting the trees obtained the environmental and social impact assessment certificate before undertaking the project.
Ignatius Ahumuza, another resident says they are prepared to seek redress from court in case the office of the RDC and Masindi district authorities fail to handle the matter.
The RDC Masindi Rose Kirabira Kobuinge confirmed receiving the residents’ petition, revealing that she was still studying it so that she can later consult NFA before taking action about the matter.Kigulya is one of the hills under NFA mandate in Masindi district.We could not get a comment from the range Manager Budongo system on the matter as he could not be reached at the time of filing the story.
The environment officer Masindi district Olivia Nabukenya says that eucalyptus trees consume a lot of water from the soil and it is recommended that they should be planted in hilly areas.
However Nabukenya notes that it is also recommended that they should be planted at least 30 meters from a farmland and other tree species should be planted in between in order to avoid draining the farming land.