The Green Lung of Uganda Forest Restoration Project.

The Green Lung Forest Restoration Project is a Six months project running from July 2016 to January 2017.

The project is being implemented in six parishes within Hoima District in Western Uganda with the purpose of enhancing the resilience of forest adjacent communities and protective ecosystems through community-led adaptation interventions focusing on riparian forest afforestation and livelihood diversification. This project is especially important due to the continuing conversion of forest to agriculture for both subsistence and small holder agriculture. Climate resilience will be enhanced by reducing the dependence on rain-fed farming practices whilst simultaneously reducing the rate of deforestation and kick-starting the regeneration of degraded forest areas through tree planting. This project mainly focuses on private and communal tropical natural forests that form important wildlife corridors between the Budongo and Bugoma Forest Reserves in the Hoima and Masindi Districts of Western Uganda. The Budongo – Bugoma Corridor (BBC) forests are home to critically important chimpanzee populations that live outside Uganda’s national parks and other protected areas.

The impact of climate change on human and economic development in the Albertine Rift areas of Uganda is mounting. The threat of climate change is considered real and one of the seven highest ranked threats to the Albertine Rift area which is expected to become hotter and drier over the next 20 years – increasing incidence of wild fires and reducing crop productivity. The effects of increasingly unpredictable rainfall and longer drought periods pose a serious threat to the livelihood of these communities; which largely depend on agriculture. In addition to the pressures exerted by climate change, development of community resilience is presently impeded by a range of non-climatic but related factors, particularly the massive degradation of riparian forests which has reduced cover that otherwise functions as a natural protective barrier to stream/river bank erosion which has resulted in siltation and clogging of streams and rivers; moderates climate and threatens the natural resource base and livelihood opportunities of these communities.

The Green Lung Forest Restoration project capitalizes on existing institutional structures and processes in the target area in addressing these challenges. Specifically, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) recently concluded 3-year Project “Conserving Critical Chimpanzee Habitats in Western Uganda through a REDD+ Approach” in the target area. This project established an enabling environment for advancing community-led conservation programs. JGI facilitated the formation of 15 Private Forest Owners’ Associations (PFOAs); supported forest owners in surveying and registering their land; facilitated the assignment of forest management rights, trained and equipped the forest owners in sustainable forest management practices, trained and equippedforest owners with the tools and skills to monitor forest biomass. Accordingly, the project will build on this existing capacity to advance forestry and livelihood related strategies, a need that has been expressed by the PFOA’s.

This project is addressing the problems that contribute to forest degradation, specifically focusing on clearing for agriculture and unsustainable harvesting. Lack of alternative sources of income and inadequate awareness of importance of trees also contribute to degradation. In dealing with these problems, the project is also addressing underlying problems such as increased demand for forest products (i.e. poles, timber, for construction, charcoal production; firewood for domestic use), and is tackling the issue of incentives for community participation in conservation through investing in tangible livelihood/economic safety nets. Additionally, by implementing the activities proposed we will maintain moisture within the soil and help mitigate against predicted increase in droughts in the target area.

The project is focusing on restoring forest functions and improving ecological processes at a landscape level; addressing socio-economic and environmental dimensions; addressing root causes of degradation such as changes in land use; increasing forest resilience through enhanced connectivity and species diversity; and encompassing a mixture of locally appropriate approaches such as ecological corridors and forest regeneration.

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