Posted on 07 October 2015
Improving community livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through Payments for Ecosystem Services and tourism development in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park region.
Worldwide Fund-Uganda Country Office (WWF–UCO) is implementing the “Sustainable Financing of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park” project in the Rwenzori region covering the districts of Kasese, Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kabarole funded by the European Union (EU) and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) .The project is being implemented in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Uganda Tourism board (UTB).
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP), located in the South Western part of Uganda was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Site in 1994 and 2009 respectively. Rwenzori mountains (mountains of the moon) is a unique hiking tourist destination and global biodiversity hotspot with a variety of landscapes and species that provide essential ecosystem services such as carbon storage, forests and water catchments. RMNP is a key resource safeguarding drinking water for approximately 2million people and supplying water to a variety of industrial users. The ecosystem services are however threatened by population pressure with 805,000 people living in the peripheral area leading to increase in erosion and eventual watershed degradation and sedimentation of the rivers.
The project aims at adoption and strengthening of sustainable financing mechanisms to ensure the long term financial stability of the RMNP, for the conservation of its ecosystem and biodiversity and hence increasing benefits to local communities by 2017.
Below are some of the milestones that the project aims to achieve;
- Rallying the participation of the private sector in order to support sustainable funding instruments for biodiversity conservation, and generating additional income for both the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and the local communities, while reducing pressure on natural resources.
- Working with NEMA to develop a national regulatory and institutional framework for PES in Uganda. Existing legal and tax provisions are being reviewed and will be taken to educate the public decision makers on PES schemes. Clauses promoting PES will be written into the new national environmental act.
- Establishing long term sources of funding for RMNP and local communities through a pilot water Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) by rewarding landowners for improving their land management practices for improved catchment management. A total of 911 land owners from 14 Water User Groups (WUGs) have been trained in the implementation of catchment management interventions, tree planting, siltation and sediment management, soils and water conservation, marking and vegetating of the riparian land and woodlot establishment.
- Increasing tourist numbers and revenue to the RMNP and introducing a diverse range of products through community based tourism initiatives. UTB has come on board to provide technical support in tourism product development and marketing. A feasibility study for tourism potential was carried out and tourism products for development have been recommended to promote tourism in the region.
We anticipate a successful implementation process especially through the cooperation of our partners; NEMA, UWA, UTB, Kasese district local government, Directorate of water resources management (DWRM), private companies and resource users, local communities and farmers.