The UWA Board of Trustee chairman Dr. Panta Kasoma appreciated the contributions of partners like USAID/ Uganda Biodiversity for financial assistance and support in formation of the policy. He said wildlife conservation has immense contribution to human survival because of nature ecosystems it offers to the universe. “The ecosystem processes moderate natural phenomena include pollination by the bees to plants and trees that provide a clean purified environment that offers comfortable human existence,” he said. He said the action of therefore spraying to kill bees however small it may look has adverse effects on so many things that impact on health living of human being. He therefore argued stakeholders to collaborate in changing people’s attitudes towards conservation practices that support. He called for more action and less talk in order to create change. e He thanked stakeholders for the vibrant participation in the due course of the consultation cycle and giving their candid views manifested in the policy. He retaliated UWA’s commitment to implement the policy for the well-being of conservation and support to the host communities of the national parks. He noted that it was only human for people to need more benefits but added that that does not negate their responsibility to conserve the environment.
UWA ED Sam Mwandha in his remarks noted that the new community conservation policy comes to strengthen the community conservation function and deal with challenges associated to wildlife, habitat management and community relations. He noted that the policy intends to guide UWA in the implementation of Community Conservation programs, ensure active and effective engagement of local communities and recognise the contribution of local communities in wildlife conservation. “This will enhance equitable sharing of wildlife benefits with local communities, local governments and landowners. This will promote sustainable wildlife-based enterprises, implement mechanisms for addressing human-wildlife conflicts and strengthen collaboration with local governments, private sector and other stakeholders among other roles,” he said.
Mwandha noted that in the recent past, UWA has registered a significant increase in the incidences of human-wildlife conflicts, leading to loss of crops, property damage, injuries and human death. Another critical challenge is the management of wildlife outside protected areas (on private land) amidst competitive land use practice. He therefore emphasized the need for effective engagement of local communities and others stakeholders in combating wildlife crime, including encroachment on protected areas and vital wildlife habitats.
The Director Conservation Makombo John who facilitated the discussion and feedback session revealed that the key hallmark of the policy was to realize community appreciation and long-term support for conservation through enhanced institutionalized implementation of Community Conservation programs, strategies and activities. It therefore sought to strengthen, transform and ensure active, coordinated and effective implementation of community conservation programmes.
The Policy provides for among other things the development and implementation of management plan for wildlife outside protected area, human-wildlife strategy, implementation of livelihood, collaborative management initiatives, benefit sharing programs, wildlife enterprises and conservation education and awareness strategy. The review of the policy was highly consultative both internally and externally with regional and national stakeholder’s consultations meetings.
Some of the issues highlighted in the policy presentation by Deputy Director Community Conservation George Owoyesigire included aggressive awareness to reverse negative attitudes, community engagement to fight poaching/wildlife crime, support of community livelihood projects, Human Wildlife Conflict strategies, institutional capacity building, monitoring data bases and collaborative engagements with stakeholders.