The National Coordination Group (NCG) on Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) held its fifth National Consultative Meeting on 10th November 2020 at Fairway Hotel in Kampala. The meeting aimed to share updates and discuss mechanisms of supporting government to institutionalize the KBA mechanism in the national development planning process as well as secure high-level political support for including KBAs in the national Post2020 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agenda.
The importance of identifying and declaring special conservation areas has also been highlighted in Uganda’s Third National Development Plan (NDPIII, 2020/21 – 2024/25). This raises the importance of KBAs in Uganda as a key agenda for national development. Unfortunately, wild animal and plant species and their habitats are experiencing enormous threats of extinction largely from human activities. These activities include unsustainable natural resources harvesting and poaching of game meat; deforestation due to agricultural expansion and human settlement, urban and suburban development, and draining of wetlands which undermine the country’s prospects of attaining middle-income status by 2040.
“Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are the most important places in the world for species and their habitats. Unfortunately, today these species are under threat of extinction, and therefore need to be protected, conserved and managed sustainably. This will require that the commitment of various stakeholders such as the communities living adjacent to the KBAs, local and central governments, NGOs, private sector companies and development partners to support KBA-site level conservation actions (e.g. habitat restoration, reintroductions) and conduct research to identify more KBA trigger species in less surveyed sites in the country. This, however, can be achieved when government deliberately incorporates the KBA mechanism in annualized planning and budgetary frameworks,” says Dr. Simon Nampindo, Country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society.
Efforts to advance the KBA mechanism in Uganda have led to the establishment of the NCG, which is mandated to coordinate the process of identifying, documenting and delineating KBAs at the national level and to promote their conservation, management and protection in Uganda. Currently, Uganda has identified 36 terrestrial/wetland KBA sites and nine (9) freshwater sites following the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) KBA identification standard guidelines.
The National Coordination Group (NCG) comprises of key stakeholders namely Wildlife Conservation Society (current Chair), Makerere University, National Biodiversity Data Bank, National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Biodiversity Fund (UBF), African Union of Conservationists (AUC), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Ecological Trends Alliance, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Flora and Fauna International (FFI) National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Wildlife Authority, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA), Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST).
The NCG role is to support the implementation of the KBA mechanism at national and local levels through providing data to the National Biodiversity Databank under the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in Makerere University, which is necessary for monitoring and tracking the conservation actions at each KBA. The Databank also promotes the utilization of this data to inform the development of national conservation policies, legislation and strategies such as the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan II, setting of CBD targets, the national Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) framework aimed at promoting biodiversity conservation, climate change impact mitigation and adaptation and drive sustainable economic development. “The Essential Life Support Areas (ESLA) mapping being conducted in Uganda aims to advance spatial data utilization to identify nature-based solutions that ensure the persistence of biodiversity and its contribution to national development with support from United Nations Development Fund,” says Dr. Daniel Waiswa, Coordinator of the Uganda National Biodiversity Data Bank.