Land Trust Programme
"Diversifying land for conservation"
Rwenzori Gateway : A Private Reserve Providing a Buffer to a World Heritage Site
ECOTRUST has through its land trust programme successfully converted a 32ha piece of formerly degraded farmland into a privately managed nature reserve the Rwenzori Gateway. Through selective and gradual removal of exotics, the farmland is being managed to regenerate into a natural forest, providing a buffer to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park – a World Heritage and Ramsar Site. The Rwenzori Gateway was purchased with funding from WWF. ECOTRUST and Geolodges together with the communities adjacent to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park are partnering to develop and implement an exciting Community – based Tourism Programme. Under this partnership, a high class eco-lodge ‘Equator Snow Mountain Lodge’ and the Rwenzori Mountains Visitor Information Center (VIC) have been constructed and have been operational since August 2012.
Rwenzori Story told by the Rwenzori People
The Rwenzori Mountains Visitor Information Centre (VIC) was set up to provide a one stop information centre for the visitors to the Rwenzoris as well as other tourism attraction sites in the region. At the Rwenzori Visitor Information center, local tour guides will take you through the cultural and environmental diversity of the Rwenzoris. The VIC which boasts of the first class Restaurant and a Gift/Crafts shop also offers information on the cultural values of the native Communities as well as the significance of the Bakonjo culture in the conservation of the Rwenzori Mountains. The construction of the VIC was made possible with funding from UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme and USAID STAR Project.
Promoting better stewardship of aesthetic areas
We have partnered with the local Community to provide the Rwenzori visitor with a unique tourism product that combines forest exploration with a cultural experience led by local highly trained tour guides. These products will give both local and international visitors an opportunity to enjoy the biodiversity and cultural significance of Rwenzori Mountains without necessarily hiking up to the peak. The project provides job opportunities to the local community as an alternative to total dependency on the nearby Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The gift shop also a provides marketing platform for the unique handcrafts produced in the area. Through travel philanthropy, we encourage tourists to donate to some of the community development activities supported by the project.
Equator Snow Lodge: Enjoy luxury & serenity while conserving the Rwenzoris:
ECOTRUST in partnership with Geo Lodges have unveiled the freshest most exquisite high class lodge in the Rwenzoris– Equator Snow Lodge as an example of a Public: Private sector partnership that adds Value to the indigenous communities,. This is a beauty located at the foothills of Rwenzori Mountains (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) on the Rwenzori Gateway, a reserve privately managed by ECOTRUST. The Gateway forms a buffer between the National Park and the Community. A fraction of proceeds from the lodge will be ploughed back into conservation and community livelihoods through ECOTRUST Programmes in this region. GeoLodges Uganda owns and operates the Rain Forest Lodge in Mabira Forest, Nile Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park and the award-winning Jacana Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Book yourself a holiday at the Equator Snow Lodge through GeoLodges http://geolodges.com/about-geo-lodges.html . For every night you spend at the lodge,you make a contribution to conservation & community development in the Rwenzoris.
ECOTRUST continues working with the Stakeholders especially the local Communities, Uganda Wildlife Authority and Geolodges to develop marketable ecotourism products at the Gateway. These will include a short nature walk trail that extends to the Ruboni community land trail, a cycling trail, research tourism expeditions including an Arboretum.
The worth of Community Land in Biodiversity Corridors
In a bid to maintain connectivity within the Murchison : Semliki biodiversity corridor, ECOTRUST has since 2007 been working with the local government of Masindi District to use Payment for Environmental Services to promote community led initiatives for Sustainable forest management of community forests. This approach has been piloted in two community forests of Ongo and Alimugonza forests, which are some of the primary high tropical forests found Masindi District and are outside the Protected Area system. ECOTRUST has mobilized communities and supported them to form communal land associations (CLA). These CLAs are dully registered legal entities, (with certificates of incorporation) and have been mandated to manage these community forests. With support from Myclimate, ECOTRUST has built the capacity these CLAs equipping their leaders to manage the forests, resolve conflicts and promote income generating activities amidst challenges from a growing population, high levels of forest encroachment & limited financing. The CLAs have formed Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), through which the PES benefits will be channeled to the community.