Before the start of the United States Agency for International Development Uganda Biodiversity Programme over five years ago, Gladys Kabegambire used to harvest only two kilogrammes of honey, and collected firewood illegally from Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve (KCFR) in Bushenyi district.
Ms Kabegambire, who belongs to the Swazi Nitubasa Collaborative Forest Management group, is one of the beneficiaries of the programme.
“With the very little income from the sale of honey, I could not pay school fees for my children,” she said.
When the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) set up a bee-keeping project, her yields went up to 40kg of honey after receiving training in apiary production.
“We are using our honey to make wine and other products.”
Group members also serve as wildlife scouts.
The just concluded $11.6 million five-year USAid Uganda Biodiversity Programme aimed to achieve sustainable conservation, reduce biodiversity threats and local economic growth in Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley National Parks, Budongo and Kalinzu Central Forest Reserves.
The programme was implemented by AWF in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute from September 2012 to November 2017.
The model will now be used by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Forestry Authority and other organisations.
UWA executive director Andrew Seguya said 50 per cent of the wild animals are not in conservation areas and the wildlife scouts will be the first point of call when the animals cross into human territory.
The activities implemented were categorised according to four models: Ecological Monitoring Capacity Development, Public and Private Sector Involvement in Conservation, Conservation Enterprise, and Management of Wildlife Outside Protected Areas.
Under the Ecological Monitoring Capacity Development model, 286 UWA and 23 NFA staff were trained to collect data using equipment and software donated by the programme.
According to the November 2017 report titled “USAID/Uganda Biodiversity Programme: Achievements and Lessons Learned,” decision-making related to location of outposts, deployment for routine patrols and community conservation outreach programmes are now based on information resulting from the analysis of the data collected.
The programme also procured and delivered road equipment worth $1.4 million for UWA and $900,000 for NFA to support road maintenance, opening of fire lines and creation of trenches to deter wildlife from leaving protected areas.
“We now have models that can be replicated in other forest areas. The technology we have acquired will help us monitor the forests and bridge the gap of staff shortages,” NFA’s director of natural forest management Levi Etwodu said.
The Public and Private Sector Involvement in Conservation model focused on providing information to youth and the general public about the importance of conservation and calling for appropriate action to improve natural resource management.
In the Conservation Enterprise and the Management of Wildlife Outside Protected Areas models the programme recognised that communities can only support conservation if there is a tangible benefit.
The programme implemented chilli growing in areas near Kidepo Valley National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, where there are already reports of reduced crop damage from elephants.
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