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Ugandan Greens Demand Halt To Sale Of Lake Victoria Trees
5/8/2013 11:53:52 AM

Partially cleared forest

(GIN)  Environmentalists in Entebbe, Uganda, are mobilizing local residents to overturn the sale of trees in Kitubulu Central Forest Reserve to a resort developer.

"We are shocked to see people just cutting down the trees without informing us", said David Musingo, chair of the Uganda Wildlife Clubs, in a press interview.

Cutting down the forest is a threat to biodiversity, said Musingo.

Documents obtained by the Daily Monitor of Uganda, signed by the National Forest Authority chief Michael Mugisa, were said to confirm that the forest body offered the trees for $14,000 to the owner of the local Island Café Beach.

Mugisa said the trees had outlived their usefulness and were threatening road users. "They were hazardous to road users and Entebbe Municipal Council requested us to harvest them. We can dispose off assets by either offering them or selling and in this case, we opted to sell them off", he said in press interview.

Kitubulu, at the edge of Lake Victoria, features deluxe beach-front cabanas nestled among lush palms. Private investors say the trees are outside of the protected forest area, an assertion hotly disputed by the Entebbe Wildlife Association.

Comments on the Daily Monitor news page reflected local frustration. "Seriously, hazardous?", wrote Ivoire. "Entebbe is one of the (few) serene towns we have. if you wanted to sell the forest you have to come up with a better lie than that. We are not kids."

Two years ago, the Island Beach Café was among a half dozen cited for fencing off their beachside properties and preventing local area residents from reaching the lake shores. It was ordered closed for degrading the environment, lacking permits, titles, licenses or plans, and discharging sewage into the lake but a reporter found it still operating last year despite the order.

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