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The findings of the study will support Environmental Defenders (ED) to develop and design activities or programs aimed at protecting the forests and Lake Albert Biodiversity; and, to enhance livelihoods in the study areas where forest and biodiversity loss are associated with smallholder agriculture. ED’s approach to resolving this development challenge is to support groups, households; and, individuals at the frontline of conservation particularly by applying smallholders approach to conservation and encouraging sustainable development at the local level while maintaining critical biodiversity in the target landscapes.
Specifically, the study sought to accomplish the following:
Furthermore, the study was expected to identify the following key issues:
As a result, the following are the topline Preliminary findings of the study:
From the qualitative evidence gathered so far, it has emerged that the community is already aware of what human activities have resulted into loss of forest cover on mountain Jonam. Community knowledge and practices on Luli forest should be reflected in the results from the survey, hopefully. The community members in the FGDs did not discuss much on Luli Forest. In addition, there is knowledge of the important indigenous tree species that are disappearing, hence need to be preserved; and how these can be preserved. In Luli Parish, there is a previous tree planting project that was implemented by NUSAF in 2018 which provides learning on what works and does not in tree planting projects.
On Lake Albert water resources the, community is not against government regulation towards the preservation of the fisheries resources but have concerns on how this government regulation is being implemented. The main concern is over the great loss of income for majority of the population that depended on fishing both directly and indirectly and yet government has not provided a safety net for them to have an alternative to turn to. In the past, when the climate was still favorable, farming would have provided that safety net for those who own land or, at least can access land through renting. However, the droughts of the last and previous years have constrained this option as an alternative to fishing and the associated incomes from it. Consequently, the community has continued to engage in illegal fishing, this being aided by the corruption in the enforcement agencies that are manning the implementation of the government regulation on fishing with the right boat size and net size.
In relation to land resources, in Luli village more of the community members are land owners while in Dei and Hoima Parishes, there are more land tenants. Land uses therefore vary accordingly, with Dei and Hoima Parish engaging in more short term crops productions as the majority grow small acreages of food for home consumption using their incomes from the Lake /water businesses they run. It was observed that brick making is high in Dei and Hoima Parishes as seen from the several brick making kilns on the land. Owners of large chunks of land that can be used for perennial agriculture also exist in Dei and Hoima, but the location of these are more towards the foot of the slopes of the mountain Jonam. In Luli Parish, both short term agricultural crops and perennial crops are grown, and trees are more common sight as compared to the other two parishes. On the mountain Jonam, small animals such as goats are seen grazing on the slopes while bigger animals like cattle are more on the foot of the hills and plains. However, it appears that the animal keeping is more prevalent in the Oguta parish area.
In Hoima and Dei parishes fishing and related activities is the primary income source with Agriculture/crop farming being secondary. Oguta and Luli Parish community are also involved in fishing but with the advantage of having land are equally engaged in agriculture as a livelihood source.
Drought in the past year has been a major constraint to crop agriculture and this coupled with the stringent measures on fishing activity has left all the four parishes in a dire situation. The community is aware of the negative impacts of tree cutting but is forced to continue with the same practice as tree cutting for charcoal burning, firewood sale and brick/kiln use remain their alternative livelihood source.
Cotton growing was mentioned as a cash income source. However, the farmers were discouraged by the low prices that the cotton is purchased at hence have largely abandoned cotton growing for the purpose of income earning.
Therefore, from the foregoing, a holistic approach to addressing environmental degradation must be adopted. That is, as we seek to reverse the negative impacts of deforestation, we must also avail or strengthen people’s livelihoods so that they are able to access fuel wood and/or alternative energy sources; we must be able to meet the need for affordable methods of fish processing that do not use fuel wood; and crop agriculture must be supported through feasible modern day agriculture technologies.
This may achieved through the following strategies:
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