856Two Articles with MyFoodStory Links (farming-wildlife-sustainable development)
- Apr 1, 2007Win-win for Uganda's birds and farmers (29-03-2007)
Echuya Central Forest Reserve in southwest Uganda, an Important Bird Area (IBA), is to benefit from improved agricultural practices by local farmers who have been trained in sustainable organic agriculture techniques by an initiative coordinated by two BirdLife Partners.
NatureUganda (BirdLife in Uganda) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) created the Echuya Forest Conservation Project to counteract significant deforestation that had occurred throughout the montane forest over previous years, primarily a result of firewood, timber and bamboo collection.
"For Echuya IBA to be conserved, we have moved the focus from the forests to the farm; improving the economic yield of farming practices in nearby communities as a means to reduce the environmental pressures bearing down on Echuya," said Ambrose Mugisha, Deputy-Director of NatureUganda.
"At the heart of the initiative was the need to reduce demand on these forest resources: hence, by introducing fuel-efficient wood-burning stoves and planting alternative sources of wood, less burden is on Echuya for providing resources", said Dr Chris Magin, an Africa International Officer at RSPB, involved with the project since its inception. So far people have planted 100,000 tree seedlings and 3,000 bamboo clumps on their own farms.
"We hope it's a win-win situation for people, for birds and for Uganda's biodiversity", said Ambrose Mugisha, Deputy-Director of NatureUganda.
Starting in 2006, the project also began training farmers in improved agricultural methods using the Kulika Programme - funded by the UK-based Kulika Trust, and using trainers provided by the Kulika Charitable Trust Uganda.
In the initiative, farmers spent one week in a residential training centre each month for six months.
"An unusual feature of the training is that between each residential session they are visited on their own farms by the Kulika trainers to encourage them to put into practice what they have learnt," said Dr Magin. "They are taught about nutrition, sanitation, and construction and the use of appropriate techniques that would encourage Sustainable Organic Agriculture [SOA]."
The Kulika-trained farmers are expected to pass on their new skills to neighbours, and a recent review has confirmed that SOA practices had been picked up on a number of farms.
Among the SOA practices taken up: compost-making and use in vegetable growing, production and use of liquid manure or plant tea, home-made organic pesticides (orange peel is one example), trench composting, kitchen gardens and the construction of pit latrines.
"All of these approaches were designed with one thing in mind: to make resource-use sustainable," said Dr Magin.
Echuya Central Forest Reserve is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) on the basis of its diverse array of species - over 100 species recorded, some of them threatened, like Grauer's swamp-warbler Bradypterus graueri.New BirdLife report investigates poverty for those living within Important Bird Areas (31-01-2007)
A new report by BirdLife International has underlined further the importance of people and their livelihoods in working toward the long-term conservation of birds and their habitats.
Livelihoods and the Environment at Important Bird Areas: Listening to Local Voices" is the result of a number of "Participatory Poverty Assessments" carried out by BirdLife Partners in fourteen nations across the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
The report presents the findings of these assessments, giving new information on the lives of local people at Important Bird Areas (IBAs), their perceptions and experiences of poverty and the role of the environment in people's lives.
"The poor are often hidden from view. Without knowing who they are and how they depend on the environment we're effectively limiting their involvement in decision-making," said David Thomas, Head of Site Action Unit at BirdLife International, and author of Listening to Local Voices.
"This report has helped us to identify the marginalised groups and to understand their dependence on resources within IBAs. This knowledge is immensely important for the BirdLife Partnership; we can't guarantee long-term wildlife conservation without incorporating the needs of people."
Many of the world's most impoverished countries are also those that contain the majority of the world's Globally Threatened Birds.
"This makes attention to people�s needs all the more important," said Dr Thomas. "To make IBA strategies workable, so that local communities are not further impoverished, conservation approaches must be relevant to a climate where poverty reduction and meeting basic needs is high on the list of priorities for local people and their governments."
Important Bird Areas are an important part of BirdLife International's work. The IBA programme applies a set of internationally agreed criteria to identify sites of global importance for birds and biodiversity conservation.
"The poor are often hidden from view. Without knowing who they are and how they depend on the environment we�re effectively limiting their involvement in decision-making," said Head of Site Action Unit at BirdLife International, Dr David Thomas.
At many IBAs, people form Local Conservation Groups - organised, independent groups of voluntary individuals who work in partnership with relevant stakeholders, to promote conservation and sustainable development at IBAs and other key biodiversity sites.
"Linking local people and conservation is not a new concept, but this report emphasizes its importance," highlights Dr Thomas. "At many IBAs, support to the development of sustainable livelihoods is forming a successful and integrated part of the conservation approach. Good examples are ongoing ecotourism initiatives in Bolivia, fruit-farming initiatives in Burundi and sustainable farming practices using non-timber forest products in Ghana."
The report, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, draws together a number of key lessons learnt from the study, highlighting the multidimensional aspect of poverty and the need for more focus on the strong links between the poor and the environment.
Other findings are more specific to Important Bird Areas: "The results indicate that environmental resources of IBAs can help reduce the vulnerability of communities, opening the door for linking conservation to poverty reduction," states Dr. Thomas.
Enhanced measures to influence policy processes also feature heavily among the conclusions: "Many decisions are made nationally or are affected by global processes, and engaging effectively at other levels will be necessary for local efforts to achieve their potential," the report concludes.
To see the full-version of "Livelihoods and the environment at Important Bird Areas: Listening to Local Voices" click here
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