Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda suffered from widespread encroachment by agriculture during the 1970s and 1980s, a period of political instability. After the political situation stabilised in the late 1980s, reforestation of encroached areas was recognised as a way to provide opportunities for carbon sequestration. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), supported by IUCN and funded by a consortium of Dutch electricity companies called the FACE Foundation (Forests Absorbing Carbon dioxide Emission), committed to planting 25,000 ha of the encroached areas with natural tropical montane forest tree species over a 25 year period starting in 1994. To date, 7,500 ha of the park have been planted.
Experiences and lessons learned
Experience from a reforestation project in Uganda
This project demonstrates that restoration of natural forest is possible and can be certified under the Kyoto principles. Thus, one need not only plant fast growing exotic species in plantations, but can re-create natural systems.
However, the needs of the local people living around the park who depend heavily on the area for basic needs such as firewood, grass for livestock, food, medicines and building materials, was not adequately addressed in the initial phases of the project. The lack of real involvement in the restoration activities by the local people gave rise to a number of problems. Widespread dissatisfaction led to the destruction of a large number of nursery seedlings in UWA-FACE nurseries, and of areas planted with seedlings. In one parish, where a pilot collaborative management agreement had been negotiated, UWA-FACE staff involved in the reforestation programme prevented people who were legally entitled to collect park resources from doing so.
The design and management of the project has since been changed - based on the hard lessons learned from the first phase of the project. The project area has been awarded a certificate of compliance from the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainable forest management.