EU head of delegations to Uganda with minister of environment and Friends of Zoka members visit the depleting Zoka Forest

EU delegation in Uganda visits fast vanishing Zoka forest

A delegation from the European Union (EU) has visited the Zoka central forest reserve in Adjumani district to ascertain the level of destruction due to illegal logging.

The Wednesday 4th November visit comes at the invitation of ‘Friends of Zoka’, a local non-governmental movement formed to protect the forest from further untold logging.

The 1259-hectare natural forest boasts of the highly valuable but endangered Afzelia Africana tree species that is a top target to illegal loggers due to its value.

Mr William Amanzuru, the coordinator for friends of Zoka decried the rampant logging which he lamented will not only affect the current generation but a number of others yet to come.

He appealed to the central and the local governments to pick a keen interest in stopping the illegalities.

The friends of Zoka group has in the past accused local leaders in the district of conniving to deplete the forest.

Previous attempts by Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) as well as a directive from Uganda police force to stop the dealing in the endangered tree species have all proved futile, instead more logging has been cited by locals.

In his response, Mr Attilio Pacifici, the head of European Union delegation to Uganda in an address inside the forest affirmed his support towards the cause of protecting the forest and the environment at large.

“We should make an attempt, we should all become friends of Zoka” Pacifici urged in support of the movement.

The first deputy prime minister Gen Moses Ali while presenting a memorandum of the district to the EU delegation, remarked that, after several consultations on how to stop the illegalities, the district came with a number of recommendations.

Chief among the recommendations include suspension of commercial production of charcoal and cancellation of all licenses for forest products harvested in the district.

Gen Ali also additionally said all temporary camps of loggers and charcoal burners will be closed with immediate effect and warned enforcement officers to step up or face consequences.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the state minister for water and environment who accompanied the EU team pledged to take thorough actions against the appointed leaders following the directives by the president.

“Mr RDC, when I hear the forest has been cut, I will come here and die with you before the community tasks me” Anywar warned.