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Status of Land under Wildlife, Forestry and Mining Concessions in Karamoja Region, Uganda

Tenure in Mystery collates information on land under conservation, forestry and mining in the Karamoja region. Whereas significant changes in the status of land tenure took place with the Parliamentary approval for degazettement of approximately 54% of the land area under wildlife conservation in 2002, little else happened to deliver this update to the beneficiary communities in the region. Instead enclaves of information emerged within the elite and political leadership, by means of which personal interests and rewards were being secured and protected. It is thus not surprising, to observe communities in Karamoja cursing the inconsiderate persons who drive Uganda Wild Authority for loose of community rights in favour of wild animals. All this while what is rightfully theirs is restored unto them but is unknown to them. Divergent from this trend, are the lands held under Central Forestry Reserves, accounting for approximately 12% of the land area in Karamoja, whose status is unlikely to change in the near future, because they embody critical water catchment areas linked to bio-diversity or sensitive ecosystems. The obscurity for their non-access and non-use by communities in Karamoja, matches the desolate anonymity associated with minerals and mining concessions offered to private companies for approximately 25 % of the land area. All this, takes place within a policy attitude and mindset characterized by enduring negative perceptions about the region, taken to be chaotic, backward economically irrational and environmentally destructive under the pastoral land use and production system. The aim of this study then, is to factually ground interventions for securing tenure and livelihoods on contemporary and up to date information obtained from the relevant departments or agencies of government concerned with wildlife conservation, protection of forested areas and mining of minerals in Uganda. Findings show that communities are vulnerable to internal and external loss of land and its resources without information, that empowers them to protect, negotiate and participate in their ownership, use and management. Set in four Chapters, this report details changes generated by the degazettement of conservation areas in 2002 and the current status of Forest reserves in Karamoja region, with community views on their existence and utilisation in the first chapter.

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