COMBO: Conservation Impact Mitigation and Biodiversity Offsets
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in partnership with Forest Trends (BBOP) and Biotope is implementing a “No Net Loss” (NNL) project funded by AFD/FFEM. The goal of the project is to contribute to the establishment and implementation of effective mechanisms to avoid, reduce, restore and offset impacts of biodiversity and ecosystems in order to achieve “No Net loss” or a “Net Gain” of biodiversity as well as generate additional funds from biodiversity offsets to fund conservation activities in Africa.
The COMBO Project Uganda component aims to addressing effects of planned/ongoing investments, in the longer term, through the mitigation hierarchy and implementing enduring and resilient offsets. The Project supports policy and institutional level interventions to institutionalize the Mitigation Hierarchy as an additional biodiversity conservation tool. The COMBO project works with government ministries (Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) and government agencies (National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) , National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and departments (Wetlands management Department (WMD), Department of Environment Support Services (DESS) etc.), private sector (in Oil and Gas Sector, Infrastructure Development, hydropower generation and transmission), and development partners to develop and apply mitigation hierarchy which will involve a sequence of four key actions – ‘avoid’, ‘minimize’, ‘restore’ and ‘offset’
Major developments being carried out include transport infrastructure that is being upgraded in many areas, Agricultural infrastructure, oil and gas exploration and production, Hydropower development and tourism infrastructure. Some of these are being implemented inside or at the fringes of protected areas and have potential to cause negative environmental impacts.
Supporting the uptake of best practice in the application of the mitigation hierarchy will require different approaches, an integrated approach to planning within the landscape will be important to ensure ‘No Net loss’. There is need to increase efficiency in data collection, share monitoring protocols and stakeholders should share a common planning framework within the project landscape.
Reconciling economic development and biodiversity conservation by supporting government policies which improve mitigation of industry impacts
Strategy: supporting the uptake of best practice in the application of the mitigation hierarchy (i.e. Avoidance, Minimisation, Restoration and Offsets) for development project that impact biodiversity and ecosystem services.
COMPONENT 1: Improving policy to reduce development project impacts on biodiversity the policy experience gap analysis has been conducted.
COMPONENT 2: Developing tools to measure potential impacts on biodiversity, identifying measures to reduce impacts and developing baseline and monitoring methodology
COMPONENT 3: Developing institutional, legal and financial mechanisms for offset implementation, particularly those linked with conservation trust funds to secure the permanence of conservation outcomes
COMPONENT 4: Supporting the uptake of best practice in the public and private sectors, monitoring these initiatives and developing lessons learnt.
COMPONENT 5: Building national and regional capacity by sharing lessons learnt.
Uganda is undergoing rapid development across all sectors. The National Development Plan II (NDPII) proposes that by 2020, Uganda will be a middle income country and the development interventions envisaged by the Vision 2040 would invariably result in residual unavoidable impact on biodiversity resources. This implies that government will have to implement a number of reforms and undertake a number of deliberate policy changes which will have to be made in order to achieve this ambitious goal. Uganda being one of the most bio-diverse countries in Africa, containing more than half of Africa’s bird species and a wide range of vegetation types including semi-arid woodlands, montane forest and lowland forest measures have to be put in place to mitigate development impacts.
The Uganda COMBO team has completed the gap analyses on the policy and legal, experience gap analysis and the reports are ready. A further analysis was done to come up with policy options that would work for Uganda to Institutionalize NNL/NG.
On planning and measurement tools, the team has been testing technical methods that can inform the application of the mitigation hierarchy to proposed infrastructure; roads, bridges, powerlines and hydropower plants. They also prioritized priority landscapes and data inventory that can be used to analyze different mitigation options.
COMBO has offered support to UWA in the process of developing biodiversity offset guidelines in their protected areas and working with the private sector, government projects to advise on how best to implement offsets.
Building National Capacity and regional capacity by sharing lessons learnt, a number of technical staff from government institutions, private sector and ESIA consultants have been offered skills in the Mitigation hierarchy.
The goal of this training is to strengthen the capacity of institutions to design and implement the mitigation hierarchy, including offsets, as a planning and management tool for biodiversity conservation