Restoring forest corridors for chimpanzees in western Uganda
In the Albertine Rift, western Uganda, we are working with local communities to restore vital ecological corridors between some of the country’s remaining chimpanzee strongholds. We are also helping local communities benefit from diversified incomes through sustainable agroforestry and enterprise development and are working to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Since 2014, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working to improve habitat connectivity between four forest reserves in the Albertine Rift: Budongo and Mukihani forest reserves in the north of the region, and Wambabya and Bugoma forest reserves in the south. Habitat degradation, forest fragmentation and human-wildlife conflict are well-documented threats, but these problems are driven by poverty. Local communities face food insecurity from low agricultural yields, crop raiding from chimpanzees and other wildlife, and – increasingly – the impacts of climate change. In the face of this, forest cover used by chimpanzees for movement, food and nesting is being regularly encroached upon by community members for subsistence farming.
We aim to improve chimpanzee movement throughout 2,710 hectares of forest corridor by implementing community-based restoration of ecological corridors in critical riverine forest and chimpanzee habitat in the Budongo-Bugoma landscape of the Albertine Rift. In parallel, we want to ensure that local communities benefit from diversified incomes and reduced human-wildlife conflict by applying human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategies and developing sustainable agroforestry and enterprise initiatives.
Our long-term vision for the area is that well-managed and restored forests in the Albertine Rift conserve biodiversity, improve and sustain the conservation status of chimpanzee populations, enhance resilience, and contribute to local communities’ sustainable livelihoods and well-being.
FFI is working with Private Forest Owners Association (PFOA) members in the Budongo-Mukihani and Bugoma-Wambabya corridors. Building on previous work to establish chimpanzee monitoring, we are providing these associations with training and support on the reforestation of riverine corridors, agroforestry, enterprise development and human-wildlife conflict mitigation. Local-level sustainable financing mechanisms are also being developed to support ongoing conservation efforts by the PFOAs. There is strong government engagement and technical support through the District Authorities in Kikuube, Masindi and Hoima, and through the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Conservation finance model is rolled out to all sites.
Darwin Initiative work begins.
14.6 hectares of private land is planted with indigenous trees; protocols for monitoring chimpanzee threats are established; a conservation finance model is piloted.
Monitoring shows a 40% increase in chimpanzees’ use of the corridor as a result of our conservation activities.
Surveys establish the baseline for chimpanzee movement between the corridors and a biodiversity baseline assessmentis conducted. 89.6 hectares of private land is planted with indigenous trees.
Project begins, with a socio-economic baseline survey undertaken as one of the first activities.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) uses a range of approaches to address the causes of habitat loss, but always works with in-country partners to ensure that the action we take is locally appropriate. Above all, we operate on the basis that success is contingent on working with communities and including them in all decisions that affect their daily lives, rather than creating ‘wildlife-only’ exclusion zones.
Senior Programme Manager, Eastern Africa
This project is currently being funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative. We are thankful to the previous support from Arcus Foundation and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Forests contain the overwhelming majority of life on Earth, including a staggering 80% of the planet’s terrestrial species.
Humankind's closest relative, the chimpanzee is threatened throughout its range by a combination of habitat loss, poaching and disease.