Kampala — A report published last week describes how a new 3 year project in Uganda will help the recently formed Uganda Poverty and Conservation Learning Group promote evidence-based policies that both reduce poverty and conserve wildlife.
The project is innovative as it intends to promote greater understanding of how community conservation efforts can improve people's lives, and also aims to build the capacity of Ugandan organisations to use this information to inform policy makers and influence conservation policy.
It is being implemented by the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC), Jane Goodall Institute Uganda (JGI) and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), and is coordinated by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). In a statement sent to East African Business Week, the project will use Bwindi Impenetrable National Park as a case study to collect evidence that can support current and future policy making in the country. It is envisaged that major national policy processes such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and of Bwindi's own Management Plan will benefit from the evidence produced from the research.
"Bwindi has a long history of various 'integrated conservation and development' approaches. These people-oriented activities seek to improve conservation outcomes by linking the needs of local communities and wildlife.
"But recent research has shown that the approach has had mixed success," says Douglas Sheil of the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC), which will lead the project's research component.
"We want to look at Bwindi again to get a better understanding of the links between poverty and conservation," says Panta Kasoma of Jane Goodall Institute Uganda, which coordinates the Uganda Poverty and Conservation Learning Group. "This way we can make more informed recommendations about challenges such as crop raiding by wild animals, illegal resource use and equitable benefit sharing in local communities."
ACODE, one of Uganda's leading policy think tanks will conduct training in advocacy and outreach for members of the Ugandan Poverty and Conservation Learning Group, who include representatives of government departments, civil society organisations, research institutions and the private sector.
According to ACODE's Executive Director Godber Tumushabe, "Informed and effective advocacy can serve as a bridge that connects research and policy making. It can promote change that is based on evidence of what really works. Doing research is only part of the process. We need also to communicate research findings to the right people in the right ways to encourage changes that support social and environmental goals."
The new report is the result of a planning meeting held in July, when stakeholders gathered to provide input into the project plans.
"Poverty and Conservation Learning Group is an international network that aims to promote dialogue and foster learning on the links between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction," says Andrew Gordon-Maclean of IIED. "Uganda is one of only two countries to have a national level PCLG and its members will play an important role in influencing conservation policy to pay greater attention to issues of poverty and social justice."
The project is funded by the UK government's Darwin Initiative and the UK Department for International Development. However the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Government.