On September 16th, 2023, the ECOTRUST Secretariat and Board of Trustees, led by Innocent Byamukama, the ECOTRUST Programme Coordinator for the Queen Elizabeth Landscape, embarked on a profound field visit to the Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve in Rubirizi district. Here, they witnessed the remarkable restoration efforts of the Ndangara and Nyakiyanja Parishes Tutungukye group (NNTG), a local Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) group. This visit unveiled a story of conservation, community collaboration, and remarkable transformation within the Ndangara community.

From Conflict to Collaboration: A Turning Point

In 2012, ECOTRUST introduced the Trees for Global Benefit (TGB) Programme to Rubirizi District. This initiative marked a turning point for the NNTG, a group primarily composed of hunters relying on unsustainable practices within the Kalinzu forest reserve. Through collaborative efforts and agreements with the National Forestry Authority (NFA), ECOTRUST facilitated a visionary forest management plan. This plan not only reforested the inner sections with indigenous trees but also introduced eucalyptus buffers around the forest, serving the needs of the Ndangara community.

Empowering Communities Through Sustainable Practices

Under the TGB Programme, the NNTG reforested 380 hectares with indigenous trees, creating designated land parcels for tree planting. Simultaneously, eucalyptus cultivation provided a vital source of firewood for the community, eliminating the need for destructive practices within the reserve.

The group’s success expanded as they entered the business realm. ECOTRUST’s support enabled the NNTG to establish a thriving beekeeping enterprise. With World Bank funding and expert training, they managed an impressive 3,800 beehives by 2023, producing over 600kg of honey annually.

Sustainable Growth and Ongoing Collaboration

In 2023, a revised agreement with the NFA granted NNTG an additional 60 hectares within the Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve for reforestation efforts. Moreover, they established a partnership with Toro Botanical Gardens, supplying forest herbal extracts, further elevating their living standards.

Conservation and Community Development: A Synergetic Path

The NNTG’s journey exemplifies the synergy between conservation and community development. ECOTRUST’s enduring partnership with NNTG stands as a beacon of sustainable growth in Rubirizi District. As the NNTG’s story continues to unfold, it serves as a testament to the power of collaboration, reaffirming that conservation and community development can indeed go hand in hand.