Secure Wetland Ecosystems to improve livelihoods through Community Conservation Agreements

Project Summary: This project will address the multiple threats to the 21,000 hectares of interlinked wetlands that are Nyamuriro swamp, Ruhuhuma valley and Lake Bunyonyi in Kabale, Kigezi region, Uganda, working through Community Conservation Agreements. The threats constitute mainly unregulated drainage and unsustainable extraction of products, including proposed peat extraction for electricity generation. Community Conservation Agreements will empower people (10,000 households) to enhance benefits from wetlands’ ecosystem services, improve their farming practices, protect globally threatened species such as the Endangered Grey Crowned-Crane and increase carbon sequestration potential.

Problem being addressed: Ugandan wetlands are considered ‘Freeland’ or wastelands with no incentive to manage them sustainably. The main threats were unsustainable harvesting of wetland resources such as unregulated drainage for agriculture. These wetlands are dominated by peat, one of the richest reservoirs of sequestered carbon. In the long-term, exposing peat to oxidation reduces productivity and food security, accelerating land drainage. However, in 2017 the government proposed mining the wetlands for peat. Local communities with support from NatureUganda (backed by a scientific study) protested and petitioned the government to show that mining would be uneconomic, displace people and contribute to climate change.

In addition, the Uganda Wetlands Atlas and Uganda Wetlands Assessment Report 2017 indicate that wetland encroachment changes water regime, water quality, and the macro-climate with negative impacts on the availability of wetlands resources, safe water, and public health.

Biodiversity challenges being addressed: Nature Uganda’s monitoring programme (2017)  shows, that together the above wetlands support the highest number of breeding Grey Crowned-Cranes (>100 pairs) in Uganda, the Papyrus Gonolek, and other globally threatened birds such as Papyrus Yellow-Warbler, wetland endemic mammals e.g. the Sitatunga and amphibians especially endemic Xenopus frogs (a local delicacy).

Related Documents: