Sustainable Community forest resource management

The TIST programs empowers subsistence farmers in Uganda to combat the devastating effects of poverty, food shortage, deforestation and disease by planting trees.

In planting these trees the Small Groups of farmers also produce a virtual cash crop of community forest-based carbon credits for which they receive ongoing cash payments. This income serves to augment the community benefits afforded by the program’s planting schemes which are designed to afford maximum benefit to local participants through reafforestation, agro-forestry and community lead forest resource management.

Starting in July 2005 the target was to the plant 150,000 new trees over 3 years with the establishment and involvement of 150 small groups in the Bushenyi district of Uganda. Having reached the end of this initial period the reality is that over 550,000 trees were planted with the establishment of 290 small groups.

Community Forest Conservation and Expansion

This project is a beneficiary of the Gaia/African Biodiversity Network Micro-Projects Fund.

This project will be carried out in Mukono district, in the Buganda kingdom, Uganda. The forest to be expanded is the Kintu forest east of Kampala. It has been in existence for almost 400 years and is made up entirely of natural indigenous tree species.

Uganda`s forest cover has halved in the last 50 years due mainly to the encroachment by the neighbouring communities in search of livelihoods eg charcoal burning, timber and farming and government-supported industrial investment that has seen protected forests such as Butamira, Bugara and Mabira given away to investors.

An opportunity has arisen whereby the Uganda National Forestry and Tree Planting Act (2003) recognises the need for community conservation of natural forests. This means the Buganda kingdom clans can use this act and claim community participation in management of the forest. Activities will include community sensitisation meetings to revive traditional knowledge and planting and maintenance of indigenous tree seedlings to expand the forest.

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) was established in 1991 as a coalition of three international conservation organisations. Its current partnership consists of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Mountain gorillas, listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, live in the Afromontane forest habitat of Central Africa, spanning the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their numbers are estimated to be around 880 as of September 2016. The aim of the IGCP is to protect the remaining numbers of mountain gorillas and their natural habitat.

The primary threats to the mountain gorillas are habitat destruction, poaching, disease, and civil war and unrest. IGCP’s conservation projects aim to mitigate these threats by collaborating with local communities and key stakeholders to strengthen mechanisms for transboundary migration of the gorillas and increase protection of their borders. Restore Our Planet supported IGCP to protect the Gorilla’s shrinking indigenous habitats within the national parks. By providing the local communities with an alternative source of wood for fuel and construction, as well as promoting the use of energy-saving cooking stoves, they helped to preserve the habitat by reducing pressure on the surrounding forest. Restore also helped support IGCP’s work with communities who are planting fast-growing exotic tree species and native bamboo in carefully managed woodlots – reducing the need for illegal harvesting within the national parks and maintaining critical food sources for the gorillas.

While the forest itself has been boundary fenced to act as a physical barrier to illegal encroachment, successfully reducing human-wildlife conflict, the IGCP projects also encourage sustainability through the establishment of community-based livelihood strategies. Amongst these are enterprises like curios-making and beekeeping. The most recent research, conducted in 2010, shows an annual growth rate of 3.7% in response to these efforts. IGCP, along with its partners, hope to continue with these strategies in order to ensure the viability and longevity of the mountain gorilla species.