REFORESTATION IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is located in southern Uganda and occupies 795 square kilometres. Due to extreme differences in elevation, both tropical rainforest and dry savannas are found within the park. It is an area with a vast number of species and is known for its high concentration of wildlife. It is a leading research location for studies on primates, the dynamics of the forest ecosystem, wild boar and fish species.
Forest restoration since 1993
A portion of the tropical rainforest in the park became degenerated in the 1970s. Face the Future has been working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) on restoring the Kibale forest since 1994. Since then, more than 1.5 million indigenous trees have been planted, restoring 6,700 hectares of forest so far. In the meantime, many of these planted trees have reached maturity. They create a contiguous canopy, which allows biodiversity to thrive. The restored forests also lower the risk of forest fires and have had a positive impact on the water-absorption ability of the forest.
With, for and by local residents
The UWA-Face project has been so successful because it enjoys great support among residents of the villages surrounding the park. We use a portion of the income earned by the project to support local people. In the past 25+ years the project provided 340 paid jobs within the park (140 permanent and 200 seasonal). The number has fluctuated through the years. Most employees work about six hours per day for the project. This way they can combine their work for the project with farming or running their own enterprise, such as a shop. Nearly everyone in this region is a self-sufficient farmer and having a paid job is the exception.
Over the last twenty-five years, biodiversity in Kibale National Park has been strengthened, through restoration of the habitat and an increase of many animal species including:
among which the chimpanzee
such as the leopard and African golden cat
such as the green-breasted pitta
among which the forest elephant, aardvark and buffalo
among which there are trees if more than 200 years old and 55 meters high
What also helps against elephant damage: a ditch between the forest and the adjacent farmland. Meanwhile, thirty kilometers of 'elephant trench' has been dug. We also plant crops at the edge of the forest that many wild animals do not like, such as tea and pepper. In this way we limit possible inconvenience of the park for local farmers.
The Kweyamba Farmers Group in Kajumiro have received pigs from the project revenue sharing fund. They attract a lot of attention!
An extra good reason to support local beekeepers!
Face the Future started an agroforestry pilot with smallholders around Kibale National Park. By incorporating more trees and perennial plants, the farm becomes more resilient to erosion and weather extremes. Furthermore, by growing trees on their own land, smallholder can produce their own fuelwood reducing pressure on the national park.
The women from Bujongobe Bakyara Twekambe group live near the entrance of the park and therefore know the UWA-FACE project well. They were given eight goats through an application from the project revenue sharing fund. Already they have produced two offspring!
Robert prepares a meal of beans and posho for the field workers for every working day. He has been with the project since 1996. He is also a self-sufficient farmer.
“I think planting trees in the park is very important because it ensures more rain in this area. I am proud of the progress that we have made. For example, we learned how to best deal with the competition between newly planted trees and elephant grass. When I saw how slowly the trees grew in the beginning, I never expected that the forest would develop so beautifully over time!”.
Rosemary has been working as a host and secretary for the UWA-Face project since 1997. She also grows her own vegetables.
“I have a permanent job in the project. This gives me financial security, which is very special in this region. It gives me more security in terms of food and housing. I also now have access to health care and my children can go to school. That increases their chances of a good future. Besides the economic benefit, I am happy that I now know more about nature conservation and planting trees”.
Nelson Guma works at Uganda Wildlife Authority as Conservation Area Manager of Kibale National Park.
“I see the collaboration with Face the Future as a successful model for mitigating the effects of climate change, preserving biodiversity and supporting the local community. This project has improved and made the ecosystem in Kibale National Park healthy. The forest provides essential ecosystem services and is also an important habitat for special animal species. In addition to the ecological benefits, there are spin-offs that support the livelihood of the local community. For example, investments are made in social facilities, such as schools. We also take measures to limit conflicts between humans and wildlife, for example by making agricultural land unattractive for elephants.”
Tito has been working as a tree planter in the project since 1995, and he is also a self-sufficient farmer
“I have learned a lot from planting trees and working on the forest. As a result, I also started planting more trees on my own land. The money I earn from working on the project helps me support my family. I can pay for medical costs, extra food and the school fees of the children. My children can now read and write. Without the wages I earn from my work for the project, my life would be much more difficult, because there are no alternatives to earn an income here.”