Enhancing Access to Justice in Uganda's Forestry Sector: A Comparative Study of Uganda and Tanzania

This is a comparative analysis of access to justice in the forestry sector in Uganda and Tanzania. Although the concept of access to justice is broad and encompasses many aspects, this study focused on only four aspects namely: (i) tenure rights of forest adjacent communities; (ii) access to forestry information; (iii) liability for forestry harm; and (iv) courts as forest dispute settlement mechanisms. The analysis reveals that although Uganda is strong in some areas, it is generally weak with respect to many issues of access to justice that were examined. Although Tanzania was also found to be generally weak on issues of access to justice as examined, it offers some lessons for improving access to justice in Uganda’s forestry sector. On the tenure rights of forest communities, the only legally recognized right in Uganda is the right to cut and take dry wood or bamboo for personal domestic use. A range of rights in the extended bundle of rights including management rights, exclusionary rights and alienation rights are neither legally recognized nor protected. The right to cut and take dry wood or bamboo is provided for in a very ambiguous manner which cannot offer any meaningful protection. Tanzania’s forest legislation does not offer any better approach. Under Uganda’s Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) however, local communities, a forest user group or association of forest user groups who enter into a CFM Agreement with NFA could negotiate for and access negotiated benefits from the respective central forest reserves.