A scoping study was conducted in 2014 – 2015 to help FFI formulate action plans to work with communities to restore two important forest connections between Budongo Forest and Mukihani, and between Bugoma and Wambabya forest reserves in the Albertine Rift in Western Uganda. This study produced a five year Forest Corridor Action Plan which has been used to inform further work in this area. The project aims to implement community based restoration of ecological corridors known to exist between chimpanzee forests in the Albertine Rift area.

The corridor areas are public land, with dense settlement and subsistence farming. The Bugoma-Wambabya corridor runs through farmland linking two of Uganda’s most important chimpanzee forests. FFI is undertaking chimpanzee monitoring within the forest linkage areas, by community members, supported through the Private Forest Owners Associations (PFOA). This exercise will provide information on chimpanzee movements and numbers and the increasing use of the corridor areas. Approximately 60 households are now engaged in chimp monitoring through the project’s mobile phone network.

The Budongo-Mukihani corridor will maintain ecological connectivity between the Budongo and Mukihani Forest Reserves along local river systems, which will sustain ecosystem services for local farmers and communities living further downstream. It is anticipated that, through careful land-planning, at least 100 hectares of land could be identified in each corridor for future afforestation and restoration of ecological connectivity.

FFI is working with farmers to design a programme to conserve the remaining fragments of indigenous forest in the corridor areas and to engage communities in farm-level afforestation to restore ecological connectivity between forest patches.

We are grateful for financial support from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.