NEMA orders Hoima Sugar company to restore degraded parts of Kikuube Forest

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The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has ordered Hoima Sugar Ltd to restore parts of protected area along Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Hoima District, after it was found out that the company violated environmental protection guidelines during establishment of a sugar project.

On 14 August 2022, Hoima Sugar Ltd was issued an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate No. NEMA/ESIA/13709 on condition that it will implement several land-use projects in the area including establishing a sugarcane plantation (9.24 sq. miles / 2,393.8483 ha), an Urban Centre (1.206 sq. miles / 312.3 ha), an Eco-tourism Centre (1.97 sq. miles / 510.2277 ha), a Cultural Site (0.156 sq. miles / 40.4038 ha), and
a natural reserved forest with nature walk-ways/trails (6.17 sq. miles/1,598.023 ha).

However, according to NEMA, review of the latest Enviromental Social Audit report for projects in Nyangwali and Kikuube Districts revealed gross violations including deforestation of the natural reserved forest areas contrary to approval condition 4.3 (i)(c), and deforestation of the eco-tourism site contrary to approval condition 4.3 (i)(c)

As result of this, NEMA says the area of natural forests that was supposed be protected had been degraded and the quality of the site for eco-tourism purposes had been affected. NEMA says, the above findings amount to breach of conditions of approval of NEMA certificate issued to the company contrary to section 157(f) of the National Environment Act, 2019.

NEMA has since issued several orders to Hoima Sugar in a bid to safeguard the environment and avoid any further damage to the environment. These include; Hoima Sugar Ltd to immediately stop any further deforestation of the natural reserved forest area, eco-tourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban center.

No sugar cane should be planted in the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites area and land reserved for urban center. The sugar cane MUST be restrict-ed to area permitted in the certificate. The 312.3 hactares of land earlier approved for the urban centre is halted to be kept as a natural forest in view of the country’s efforts to recover forest cover loss.

Hoima Sugar Ltd should Restore all degraded areas of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for urban center.

The company must prepare a restoration plan for the degraded areas in consultation with Forestry Sector Support Department of the Ministry of Water and Environment (FSSD), National Forestry Authority (NFA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and submit the same to this Authority for approval within a period of not more than three months from the date of this order.

Hoima Sugar must implement the Restoration Plan in 4 above at their cost with guidance from FSSD, NFA and UWA to the satisfaction of this Authority. The company can also permit third parties approved by NEMA who may wish to participate in the restoration process of the degraded areas as appropriate.

NEMA says Failure to comply with the given instructions will result in cancellation of the ESIA certificate and further legal actions against Hoima Sugar Limited.

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