Who We Are
The Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST) is a not-for-profit conservation organization established in Uganda in 1999 to conserve biological diversity and enhance social welfare by promoting innovative and sustainable environmental management. We deliver conservation finance “where it matters most” – to thousands of smallholders undertaking restoration as a business in rural communities. We deploy conservation incentives in ways that enable ECOTRUST to consider investments that others can’t. We deliver conservation finance through innovative community structures and solutions that attract additional capital from private sector to invest in the green opportunities represented by landscape restoration as a business. We make innovative restoration investments that promote climate resilient solutions on a commercial basis and crowd-in private sector finance by playing an intermediary role and undertaking leadership in marketing environmental services. We have developed a valued niche in conservation finance drawing lessons from our flagship Trees for Global Benefit (TGB) program – a carbon-offsetting scheme under the Plan Vivo System.
Our vision is “Climate Resilient Communities and Sustainable Landscapes”. Our mission is to “conserve biological diversity and enhance social welfare by promoting innovative and sustainable environmental management”
Our Core Values
We undertake value-based development. The work we do is driven by a set of core values. We honor them in our decisions, express them in our relationships, and act consistently with them in our work. We state them in the present because values are lived not legislated.
We are accountable to ourselves, to the organization, and to the people we work with at all levels. We are stewards of all resources entrusted to us. We plan for and manage them responsibly
We value people, and our success is based on building TRUST with all the key stakeholders. We are transparent in all our dealings, and because of this, we have built business relationships of trust that guarantee the meeting of expectations of all our core stakeholders
We are people of high integrity. Our word is as good as a contract. We operate in such a way that when people think about character, honesty, and integrity – they think about ECOTRUST. We are dependable and reliable.
We strive for excellence in everything we do recognizing that excellence is about doing our very best in everything. We are always critical of ourselves and looking for ways to do and be better. We are committed to being creative, innovative, dynamic, and resourceful; and to use our knowledge and experience to make a difference
We are a matrix organization. We recognize that Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM). We embrace diversity and build upon everyone’s unique abilities. We reward the team while also rewarding individual excellence.
Strategic Objective 4
Build a Strong, Effective and Efficient organization of choice in delivering a triple-win biodiversity, climate Change and sustainable livelihoods’ outcome “where it matters most”
ECOTRUST has grown significantly over the past 22 years of existence. We are a small but robust and complex organization “punching way beyond our weight”. Over these years we have developed many positive attributes that we seek to sustain and consolidate over the next strategic period. We do this aware of the weaknesses and threats that seek to draw us back but chose to focus on our strengths and opportunities. SO4 will invest in building the financial resilience of the organization to ensure sustainability. SO4 will invest in automated systems and a strong workforce that will lift the organization to new visibility and professional levels over the next period. SO4 will invest in building strategic partnerships and consortia that will lift the organization to new levels of resource mobilization and a broader projects portfolio. SO4 with support professional participation in key national and international biodiversity, climate change and sustainable processes to deliver ECOTRUST positions and views on sustainable approaches that deliver impact where it “matters most” SO4 will consolidate the overall TGB business model and the blended financing approach that has built the flagship Trees for Global Benefit program into a program that defines ECOTRUST value. The key result areas under SO4 will include:
SO4 will support the building financial assets including a true Endowment Fund (EF); growing the land trust and grant management business lines; and further capitalizing the Quasi Endowment. SO4 will also support resource mobilisation to grow annual turnover from US$2m to US$10 over the next 5 years; and increase the share of public financing in the annual budget to 50%
SO4 will support project proposal development and fund raising to grow project portfolio to 50% budget share. SO4 will support the establishment of a Technical Associates Program for strategic recruitment and retention of a reliable and stable workforce to support program expansion. SO4 will support policy and expert engagement to raise ECOTRUST professional visibility at all levels and build partnerships and consortia for enhanced resource mobilisation.
SO4 will support the already on-going system automation in finance, monitoring and evaluation and performance measurement and appraisal. This will be complementary to the already advanced cloud computing systems linked to Office 365.
SO4 will support the on-going process of establishing an Advisory Council as the topmost governance structure of ECOTRUST. SO4 will support further development, documentation and sharing of the ECOTRUST impact narrative. SO4 will support the internalization and implementation of the new strategic plan and the development of a Business Plan for rolling it out over the next five years. SO4 will support the growth of all business lines and the overall restoration as a business model in ECOTRUST programming. SO4 will support the business development approach across all landscapes. SO4 will support a robust risk management system over the next five years
ECOTRUST operates across Uganda with a focus on three main landscapes: Queen Elizabeth National Park landscape and Murchison-Semliki landscape in the Albertine region of South-Western Uganda, and the Mount Elgon Landscape in Eastern Uganda. These are all landscapes of global biodiversity significance, but they are also hot spots for climate change induced disasters – especially floods, mud slides and changing weather patterns that result in frequent and unexpected droughts and changes in rainy seasons.
Our Busines Model
Over the last 17 years ECOTRUST has developed a valued niche in conservation finance – raising and managing capital to support land, water, and resource conservation – through the establishment of investment mechanisms that activate one or more cash flows generated by the sustainable management of an ecosystem. We have established a niche in restoration as a business – balancing reforestation and livelihoods.
Part of the cashflow remains with the ecosystem to enable its conservation, while part is returned to investors. ECOTRUST operates a blended business model that combines private financing with public financing as well as internally generated revenue. The different resource mobilization operations have been grouped into 8 business lines. Each business line contributes to the key ECOTRUST result areas (KRAs). The strategy has been to have each business line break–even and any surplus used to capitalize an ECOTRUST Endowment Fund composed of several Trust Funds. Figure 1 below shows the overall ECOTRUST business model that links its niche in conservation fine to its key result areas (KRAs) and to the business lines that operationalize the KRAs. The KRAs will change to strategic objectives over the next period.
Our Strategic Position
We are Strategically Positioned – ECOTRUST is a rapidly growing organization with a dynamic and complex business model. Over the last 20 years, ECOTRUST has positioned itself strategically in the thematic and operational space in order to deliver optimally and compete effectively at both national and international levels.
Within the thematic space – ECOTRUST has designed interventions that address the nexus between biodiversity, climate change and sustainable livelihoods in an integrated manner as opposed to a single thematic focus. These thematic areas are interlinked through conservation finance and environmental outcomes. This is the niche that ECOTRUST has strategically embraced through its flagship Trees for Global Benefits (TGB) program. TGB is a landscape reforestation program with a PES-based incentive for participating tree growers that has grown into a large not-for-profit commercial carbon sequestration operation – that has transformed ECOTRUST into a kind of conservation-based social enterprise. Drawing lessons from TGB, ECOTRUST has established key strategic pathways that sustain its competitive advantage. These pathways have enabled ECOTRUST to establish a complex and unique value proposition that will propel it many years into the future as the leading NGO in delivering market-based incentives promoting restoration as a business in Uganda and across the globe.
Our Strategic Outlook
These elements define how ECOTRUST intends to position itself in the broader sustainable development arena in order to remain competitive within a specific market and thematic segment. The elements also define the unique vehicles or approaches to growth that ECOTRUST intends to pursue based on its unique experience, while allowing for the innovation and dynamism that has become synonymous with the organization.
These elements represent the key success factors and value proposition that ECOTRUST is presenting to its key partners and stakeholders, and to the rest of the world, over the next strategic period. They define the character of our2022-2026 strategic plan.
We will sustain a lean and efficient structure through automation to optimize operational efficacy and scaling out
We will maintain Landscape Restoration as a Business (RAAB) as our unique approach to conservation to build climate resilient communities and sustainable landscapes
We will sustain a thematic nexus between biodiversity conservation, climate change (Adaptation & Mitigation) and sustainable livelihoods in all our programmes.
We will continue to deliver conservation finance where it matters most – to smallholders in landscapes of global biodiversity significance.
We will build financial and physical assets and grow the endowment fund; and diversify income sources to sustain the blended financing model.
We will scale out and scape up Restoration as a Business (RAAB) through a business case development approach in all landscapes.
Through Professional joint ventures, consortia, partnerships, and professional engagement in national, regional and international policy processes.
ECOTUST will be the leading agency in Uganda in delivering market-based incentives to smallholders to build climate resilient communities and sustainable landscapes.
Accountability, transparency, integrity, creating value, pursuit of excellence, teamwork – We will honor them in our decisions, express them in our relationships and act consistently with them in our work
Always critical of ourselves and looking for ways to do and be better; Committed to being creative, innovative, dynamic and resourceful; Use our knowledge and experience to make a difference; Hire the best people and maintain a collegial environment that allows us to be nimble and responsive
The Evolution of ECOTRUST
2001 - 2020
ECOTRUST was a transformation of the then paralegal Grant Management Unit (established in 1997 under a bilateral agreement on Action Program for the Environment -APE) between USAID and Government of Uganda. The company was registered as both a Trust (Trustees Incorporation Act CAP 148 – 20th January 1999) and a Not for Profit (25th June 1999) as a mechanism for;
Two Decades of Innovative Conservation Financing
2001 - 2020
ECOTRUST has over the last 20 years evolved into a fully self sufficient organization, championing the conservation agenda in Uganda.
Transformation of a USAID grants management unit into ECOTRUST
1999 to 2003
Creation, registration & Incorporation through the transformation of the Grants Management Unit of the Action Programme for the Environment, funded by USAID
2001 - 2003
With support from WWF, ECOTRUST established the Land Trust programme by purchasing 35ha of formerly degraded land, which it has now been converted into a privately managed reserve, The Rwenzori Gateway
Diversification of the Conservation Financing Business to include Payment for Environmental Services
2003 to 2008
2003 - 2004
Design & Piloting of Trees for Global Benefits in Mitooma and Rubirizi districts as a cooperative carbon offsetting scheme linking smallholder farmers to the voluntary carbon market, with an initial grant support of UKPounds 10,000 from DFID and commitment from Tetra Pak UK to buy all the credits for the initial year
2005 - 2007
2006 - 2008
Grant Award worth US$450,000 from USAID under the PRIME-West programme facilitated the negotiation and implementation of nine Collaborative Management Agreements between the National Forest Authority and the communities around Budongo and Bugoma Central Forest Reserves. This enabled the scaling up of Trees for Global Benefit to the Budongo Systems’ Range
2006 - 2008
Turning PES into a commercially viable, private sector driven conservation financing mechanisms
2009 to 2013
2010 - 2012
2009 - 2013
Evolution into a Blended performance – based Financing Model that delivers conservation & livelihood outcomes
2014 to 2018
Building Partnerships for Conservation
Groups supported by ECOTRUST
Village Savings & Loans Associations
Community Based Organisations Supported by ECOTRUST
Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) Groups