Today, May 22nd marks the International Day for Biological Diversity 2017. This year’s theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” was chosen to coincide with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/193 and for which the United Nations World Tourism Organization is providing leadership.
Sustainable tourism, a form of tourism that establishes a suitable balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, plays an important role in conserving biodiversity. It attempts to minimize its impact on the environment and local culture so that it will be available for future generations, while contributing to income generation, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. The United Nations World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future.
ECOTRUST is currently working with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in the Development of a Human-Wildlife Conflict Resilience Fund (HWC). The project, which was officially launched on Wednesday last week (17th May, 2017) aims to enhance community resilience to losses from wildlife incursions through the development of local and regional compensation schemes that are anchored on a community-driven and financed mechanism. The scheme is one of several complimentary measures for community long term engagement in reducing forest loss and degradation and providing incentive measures for community long term engagement in sustainable natural resource management. The project is targeting communities within the Albertine Rift Eco-region that ranks 1st out of 119 distinct terrestrial eco-regions of continental Africa in terms of endemic species of birds, mammals, reptile and amphibians, and second in terms of globally threatened species.
Expected Project Benefits
- A community-based resilience fund operated at local level with support from partners;
- A greater understanding of the behavior of species involved in HWC to enable better agricultural investment decisions.
- Adoption of alternative high value products that are not so vulnerable to crop damage
- Community-based institutions dealing with HWC issues
- A greater tolerance to damage from endangered wildlife species.
ECOTRUST will among other things work with existing Community Based Organizations to Conduct a visioning exercise with members of these communities to identify the magnitude of the Human-Wildlife Conflict issues and how these are linked to drivers of deforestation and forest degradation from the community perspective. The organization will also develop a financial strategy to ensure continued growth of the resilience fund together with guidelines for the financial and institutional set-up of the fund.
The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) together with other local partners will work towards building awareness programs for the sustainable management of natural resources through developing a multi-level public awareness program, targeting the local population. The program will focus on the ecological and socio-economic importance of the forests to raise public support and public roles in human-wildlife conflict management. The program will also involve increased co-operation with and support for local organizations, especially the newly established HWC Committee.
JGI will also augment an existing community based forest monitoring system to cover HWC issues. The project proponents will be working in partnership with CBOs and local governments to enhance collaboration and improve achievement of a number of conservation and sustainable development goals. Central to this is the reduction of HWC losses amongst forest adjacent communities; increased protection of wildlife species and the retention of ecosystem services for the forested areas. The sustainable socio-economic benefits projected to be accrued from the project are in line with the National Development Plan (2015), Uganda Vision 2040, and UN Millennium Development Goals, specifically those which ‘Ensure environmental sustainability’.
Also, whereas the fund is primarily for compensation for HWC losses, it is envisaged that it also acts as a Savings and Credit Scheme which will allow people to invest in alternative opportunities that are economically more stable. There will be at least 40% participation by women and youth in project interventions including leadership roles. This is critical because they are far more likely to be impacted by HWC based on their prevailing socio-cultural roles that brings them more in contact with conflict scenarios e.g. tilling forest adjacent fields, collecting water/forest products.
Ultimately, by improving attitudes through education, compensation and improved capacity for HWC response, the project will support the conservation of critical corridors that are required to maintain connectivity within the Budongo –Bugoma landscapes for certain species that require the connectivity to maintain viable populations e.g. the endangered chimpanzee. It will also reduce the incidences of retaliatory killings of wildlife due to HWC and support sustainable tourism in the region.
Biodiversity refers to the wide variety of life on earth, its biological diversity is commonly known as Biodiversity. That means all plants, animals, microorganisms etc. are part of biological diversity. Biodiversity is important because it boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small has an important role to play. Biodiversity also provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism.