Integrating Livelihoods and Conservation – People Partner with Nature for Sustainable Living

The “People Partner with Nature for sustainable Living” PPN programme is implemented jointly by four Birdlife Partners; Birdlife Denmark (DOF), Uganda (NatureUganda), Kenya (Nature Kenya) and Nepal (BCN). In Uganda, the programme is implemented in two forest sites; Echuya Central Forest Reserve located in Rubanda and Kisoro districts in western Uganda; and in Kasyoha-Kitomi Central Forest Reserve located in Rubirizi, Bushenyi, Kitagwenda, Ibanda and Buhweju districts in Western Uganda. In both these Forest sites, NatureUganda works closely with the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the District local governments as well as the national partners, line ministries notably the Ministry of Water and Environment, and relevant NGOs.

PPN is a conservation Program building strong civil societies taking active part in sustainable management and conservation of tropical forest ecosystems and improvement of livelihoods in forest adjacent communities. The program was launched in 2015 with funding from CISU and has so far completed two phases successfully. It is supported by funds from CISU, with the aim of securing long-term conservation of critical biodiversity and at the same time achieving long-term supply of forest resources and ecosystem benefits to forest adjacent communities. This is done with the view to reducing the necessity for strict law enforcement by the authorities with time and depending on community-based bye-laws to govern resource use through the Participatory Forestry Management (PFM) Arrangement.

The Programme aims at securing long-term conservation of crucial biodiversity and at the same time long-term supply of forest resources and ecosystem benefits to forest adjacent communities with a view to reducing the necessity for strict law enforcement by the authorities with time based on three interdependent approaches to forest conservation and local development. These are;

(1) Enhanced sustainability and climate change resilience of local community land-use and livelihoods through; Supporting the development of sustainable climate-smart agricultural practices; promotion of site-wide community enterprises; and increasing tree coverage within the landscape.

(2) PPN forests’ conservation status is maintained or improved through; Training in and rolling-out sustainable PFM as well as monitoring, enforcement, and reduction in levels of fuelwood consumption in households

(3) The basis for sustainability and upscaling of PFM is improved through; Expanding PFM into new parts of PPN forests and beyond in East Africa; formalizing the partnership with FECOFUN for upscaling in Nepal; and developing PFM training courses with forestry training/research institutions in all three partner countries. 


A major achievement during the second phase of the PPN Program has been to ensure a sustainable phasing out of Echuya Forest in 2021 after seven years of PPN presence. NU has developed a phasing-out strategy mainly focusing on strengthening the capacity of stakeholders and partners especially at the Local Government level, building strong governance structures in CSOs and sharing of knowledge through demonstration sites.

  • The local communities’ cooperation with local authorities on forest management works well
  • The communities have the capacity to jointly manage the forest and monitor the state of the forest biodiversity
  • The LCG have the capacity and opportunity for exerting influence on district forest management plans.
  • The role of Community Forest Groups (CFGs) in forest conservation has been well articulated and communities now have the capacity to identify and report or act accordingly in case of any threat to the forest especially regarding forest/bush fires and illegal bamboo harvesting.
  • There has been a general economic boost in the communities because of NU’s successful support for the development of income-generating activities and climate smart agriculture.
  • enhancing the capacities of BCN, NK and NU,
  • improving the management of the targeted forests,
  • improving livelihoods of FACs,
  • reducing the pressure on forests by creating alternative IGAs,
  • strengthening the capacities and engagement of local civil society and District local governments in forest management.
  • It is also evident that the environmental status of the targeted forests has improved in relation to conservation of biodiversity based on the results from the monitoring conducted bi-annually in each of the sites. For this reason, Echuya CFR is now being considered for promotion into a National Park.
  • Effectively included women and vulnerable groups and enhanced their voice and influence in forest governance. Women can now actively participate in open discussions during meetings unlike earlier days and against the culture of most regions in Uganda.
  • Enhancing equality & equity with high participation of women in Income generating activities like beekeeping, which is quite popular and brings considerable income when honey is processed and marketed well,
  • introduction of new breeds of vegetables highly demanded by the local population
  • enhancing existing practices of extracting forest resources like sustainable bamboo harvesting, bamboo domestication and the use of alternatives to Forest resources.
  • promoted joint forest management and reviews of forest management plans amongst all partners, which enforces ownership for them all.
  • Promoted integration and mainstreaming of Biodiversity and environmental issues into local government development plans and national plans
  • The progress on forest conservation can be attributed to the Program’s persistent efforts to improve local living conditions and reduce local people’s forest dependency,
  • Strengthening sustainability in forest management on aspects of over-exploitation, benefit sharing,
  • Strengthening of Community Forest Groups (CFGs) in terms of organization and influence,
  • These efforts have led to an increased buy-in of local authorities, who are now hoping to upgrade the status of Echuya forest to a National Park. 


  • Integration of CFM aspects into Local Government development plans ensures up scaling and sustainability
  • Economic incentives contribute greatly to a successful CFM process e.g. Access to forest products, income generating activities and seed money motivates the local communities to participate in, own and understand the linkages between sustainable management of forest resources and livelihood improvement.
  • Capacity building of stakeholders in CFM implementation is an important pre-requisite for fruitful understanding of CFM principles and practices, roles and responsibilities
  • Benefit sharing mechanism: The nature and type of benefits shared is important in fostering trust and commitment among the CFM partner
  • Appreciation of CFM approach by NGOs and LGs is important to make CFM prioritized into budgeting and other areas of forest management and conservation
  • Inclusiveness is key CFM process but has to be managed carefully. Besides granting equitable participation in CFM process, heterogeneous nature of communities, group dynamics, leadership issues, gender, conflicts, benefit sharing, e.t.c need to be managed well to ensure a successful and sustainable process.
  • Socially excluded groups such as women, indigenous groups like the Batwa can tap advantage of empowerment and if supported properly, they can achieve self-reliance, develop self-confidence and fully participate in CFM process.
  • Flexibility is needed for the purposes of managing emerging issues both in communities, forest and forestry legislation.
  • Periodic reviews to incorporate changes and improve implementation helps to improve the CFM process-CFM agreements/plans reviewed after every three years
  • CFM alone as an independent intervention may not sustain livelihood, thus the need to seek other livelihood enhancing options to complement community efforts in forestry resource conservation
  • The implementation of the 9 CFM steps should not be a linear process. The steps can be implemented concurrently and this fastens community bye in and ownership of the process, but also minimises community fatigue
  • CFM implementation at Echuya and KK has brought considerable benefits to the forest and also to the forest adjacent communities involved
  • CFM approach at the two sites has been appreciated by both NFA, Local Government authorities, CFM members including forest resource user groups and the community at large.
  • CFM has empowered communities in forest management and protection for sustained ecological benefits- Community forest monitors have launched a campaign of ‘our Forest-don’t destroy it- we are watchdogs’. These are working as whistle blowers about anyone doing an illegal activity in the forest and this has greatly checked on the cases of forest destruction activities