Farmers and the entire community in Mityana district in Uganda used to depend entirely on forest resources and rain-fed agriculture, but due to high population pressure and demand for agricultural land and forest products, forests were severely depleted; rainfall patterns became unpredictable making it hard for farmers to decide when and what to plant due to prolonged dry seasons.
Due to that serious problem, farmers came up with an initiative named as Half + Half 1000 Acre Community Forest Project as a result of other successful implemented projects in their community, they started to think hard on how to build resilience to their remaining forest parches as well as becoming resilient to climate changes while continuing with their farming as usual, that is how they came up with Half +Half 1000 Acre Community Forest Project similar to Analog Forestry (a system which seeks analogy ecosystem with architectural structures and ecological functions similar to original climax or sub climax vegetation) as an innovation based on small holder farmers’ initiatives to conserve and restore small forest patches ranging from ¼ an Acre to 2 Acres per household/farmer or leaving a piece of land to regenerate naturally into a forest on their small plots voluntarily, this initiative have contributed to the building of a resilient community.
It is anticipated that through campaigns and sensitization, these small forest patches or piece of land left to regenerate into forests can make 1000 Acres of forest conserved in Mityana district with time, this is one of the new innovations which can contribute to the achievement of the outcome of the September 2014 Climate Summit which provided a major opportunity to ramp up restoration of deforested and degraded lands and can also contribute to the achievement of the 150 million hectare by 2020 Bonn Challenge target in sight, and then raise ambitions to restore at least another 200 million hectares by 2030 as part of the Post‐2015 Development Agenda and the 2015 Paris climate agreements without looking at protected forests only like Mabira tropical forest in Uganda or Amazon tropical rain forest in South America and other protected forests worldwide.
This is not something government or any other agency can achieve even with law enforcement or other measures but can easily be achieved only on voluntary basis using minimal resources, driven by the fact that it is no longer feasible to conserve large tracts of forests only in the face of the rapidly growing human population and competing economic priorities especially in Africa where land has become so scarce.
If this initiative is adopted by government and non government institutions such as FAO, UNEP.IFAD The World Bank, Research institutions like IFRI,CIFOR ,PROFOR, UNFCCC, Millennium Institute ,Biovision Foundation, CGIAR, FLARE to mention but a few can contribute to resilient livelihoods, particularly when there are sudden economic, social or political changes or shocks due disasters from climate change, it can contribute to sustainable agriculture and food security, reduced soil erosion, stable rainfall pattern, stable income, provide alternative use of forest and reduce pressure on the overuse and degradation of the forests reserve in protected areas.
This is a successful tested innovation by small holder farmers themselves using their land as their own contribution in kind to the project, therefore if scaled up and replicated to other communities in Uganda, Africa and other countries where smallholder farming is still dominant has the potential of making a great impact on the restoration of forest cover and increase the biodiversity which is under pressure locally and internationally. The project is implemented by farmers themselves to restore and maintain forest related species diversity, ecosystem functions to support their livelihood and sustainability of the wellbeing of their local communities, farmers also target actors and groups such as policy makers and forest managers interested in forestry and ecosystems to build institutional frameworks for Half +Half 1000 Acre Community Forest.
The other aim of the project is to secure funds and bring all key stakeholders like local leaders, government, local, national, regional and international NGOs, private sectors, media, academia and cultural institutions on board through , mobilization, awareness creation, sensitization trainings and workshops, public dialogue meetings, and conferences together to forge a way forward for collaborative community sustainable forest management with people at the grass root.
There is one ear marked site of Half + Half 1000 Acre Project at Kasejjere village in Mityana district which has become an educational as well as a recreational centre in the community, it has started gaining recognition by government and nongovernmental organization, and research institutions like the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), a national government institution in charge of environment management in the whole country.
Therefore this is an excellent opportunity to showcase the small scale farmer work in building resilience forests while amplify the voice of the un heard to the XIV World Forest Congress and other agencies for technical and financial support, farmers request the entire global community to give a chance to this project to be mainstreamed in the global development agenda as an approach to help farmers build synergies with other partners to advocate for the replication of the project to other areas while improving people’s livelihood and regulating climate in order to achieve the future we want globally.
Blogpost and photos submitted by John Kaganga (Kikandwa Environmental Association – KEA,Uganda) – johnkaganga(at)gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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