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The Murchison-Semliki  REDD plus project-Western Uganda

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Experience

Background

Albertine  Rift is  home to  over  1100   endemic  plant   and   animal species, and  has  more  registered species of birds  and  amphibians than  any  other  part  of Africa. At the  northern tip of the  rift, east of Lake  Albert,  lies  Murchison-Semuliki Landscape,  one   of  the  last remaining forested  regions  of  Uganda.  The  Murchison-Semuliki archipelago of forests shelter populations of endangered species such as the chimpanzee, crowned eagle, and small forest carnivores such as the golden cat and  black-backed jackal.

The  Murchison-Semuliki Landscape
  is also  home to an  estimated
1.7 million people who depend on these natural  resources. 58% of these forests (113,466  ha) are privately owned by small holders and form essential wildlife corridors between the  public  forests (forest reserves). Between 2006  and  2010  over  8000  hectares have  been cleared each year for agriculture, fuel wood and timber. Food  scarci- ty is already a permanent phenomenon in the Landscape and  most of these smallholders risk reaching a poverty  trap  over the  next 10 year when  they run out of forest to clear  for cultivation.

About WCS

Wildlife Conservation Society  (WCS) and partners are implementing the  Murchison-Semliki REDD+  project which is situated in western Uganda east of Lake Albert. The REDD plus project helps to mitigate global  climate  change and  conserve the  forests and  wildlife of the Murchison-Semuliki Landscape  by strengthening the  management capacity of the  farmers and  providing   access to  more  profitable markets. The Northern  Albertine Rift Conservation Group  (NARCG) and  the  government of Uganda (GOU)  are  carrying  out  activities designed to  address the  main  drivers  of deforestation and  forest degradation in the  Landscape. Project  activities  include: conservation farming and  business saving  groups.



NARCG members (WCS, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Chimp Trust, Fauna and Flora International and ECOTRUST) aim  to create a win-win situation for poor  households and  biodiversity  by  promoting an  ecosystem-based adaptation strategy which will result in:

Reduced rates  of deforestation and habitat conversion
The current rate  of deforestation on private  lands is detrimental for both  PFOs  and  wildlife in the region, including chimpanzees, grey crowned cranes, and other endemic species that have been experiencing population declines. This project aims to drastically reduce rates of deforestation, helping  to conserve 16,000  ha  of forest and wetland in Hoima that include  crucial corridors integral to the well-being  of humans and  biodiversity.

Increased climate change resilience
Resilience to climate  change will increase through the introduction  of climate-smart conservation farming  techniques that  will lead to more  reliable  crop  yield, as well as through the conserva tion of forests and  wetlands that  act  as  buffers  to help  mitigate extreme weather events.

Poverty  reduction and improved livelihood security
Poverty will be reduced among residents of the 13 focal parishes through new  conservation farming  techniques that  will increase yield, thereby reducing food insecurity and  providing  surplus for
sale.  This surplus will help increase cash income, especially
as stronger and  more  direct links to end  and  wholesale buyers is established.

Better access to capital

Connecting rural farmers to microcredit opportunities will allow them  to develop additional sources of income through activities such as  beekeeping and  fruit tree  cultivation.  It will also  allow them   to  borrow   emergency  money  in  order   to  meet   basic economic needs, which will in turn reduce the tree cutting.

It is anticipated that the  Project  will prevent an emission of 41.2 million tonnes of CO2e  going  into the atmosphere from privately owned forests and  an  additional 20.8  million tonnes of CO2e from public  forests over  a project life time of 30 years, improve the  livelihoods   of  rural  communities and   reduce their  risk  of reaching a poverty  trap, and  saving  threatened wildlife. WCS will keep you updated on its role to contributing to a cleaner environment  in consequent bulletins.

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