WWF Uganda engaging local communities in collaborative forest management to prevent illegal logging
Kalinzu CFR which acts as a wildlife corridor between protected areas such as the Maramagambo Forest, Kashoha-Kitomi and eventually Queen Elizabeth National Park, was severely encroached on by the neighboring communities. “We thought the forest was ours and we would get anything from it. We would go cut down trees of our choice for timber at any given time,” says Bikorwomuhangi Zinori, a reformed illegal logger and the current chairman of the Ndangara Nyakiyanja Tutungukye group.
Working with WWF Uganda and NFA the community was given 615 hectares of land neighboring the forest reserve. WWF Uganda also built the groups’ organizational and fundraising capacity and it was able to attract grants from WWF, Government as well as from carbon trade with ECOTRUST. The group has so far planted on 540 hectares in a 3 phased approach.
The first planting phase was to cater for their immediate needs which was firewood, the second phase was for income generation so they planted eucalyptus for timber and the third phase which is closest to the forest boundary, they planted indigenous trees for timber and carbon trade. Apart from the tree planting, the group also received a grant from WWF to undertake beekeeping at a commercial scale and the group now has over 400 bee hives, honey processing equipment, packaging and a shop outlet for their honey. From the beekeeping, the group earns UGX 13m annually from 2600kgs.
The group also in the subsequent requests received a grant from WWF for agroforestry concentrating on shade coffee growing and value addition using pulping machines to help improve their livelihoods. From coffee, the group earns UGX 15m annually from 2 tons of coffee.
From the trees planted in 2013, the CFM group has earned a tender to supply firewood to the Kyamuhunga Tea Factory to a tune of 55,700 USD for 5000 cubic meters of wood. The money which will be distributed to each and every community member will also help further fund their livelihood projects.
Benefits of Collaborative Forest Management.
According to Judith Ahebwa, the Sector Manager of Kalinzu Cental Forest Reserve, there is need to work with communities adjacent to forest reserves so that government and the communities can jointly manage the resources together.
“In Collaborative Forest Management, we have what we call sharing roles, responsibilities and returns from these resources that we are managing together. Each stakeholder has a role to play in protecting the forest resources,” Judith says.
As part of their responsibility, the community usually carries out patrols in the forest and reports any illegalities to NFA which was not the case in the past. Before the collaborative forest management started, the relationship between NFA and the community was sour at its best; to the extent that some would go the lengths of damaging the organization’s cars to curtail NFA’s movements.
Even if the standards of living have improved and illegal activities have significantly reduced sensitization of the community must always continue, says Guma Richard, the LC III chairperson of Ryeru sub county Rubirizi District.
Moving forward, this approach if adopted across all the Central forest reserves will surely reduce costs of forest management and improve livelihood.