Uganda Wildlife Authority, Space for Giants and 9 district governments on July 15, 2022 signed Co-Management Partnership contracts for Pian Upe and Amudat Community Wildlife Area. This is intended to restore and drive more conservation rewards to local people. Both local communities and wildlife reserves will see significantly improved economic and ecological benefits under a pioneering new conservation investment agreement. At the signing ceremony, UWA team was represented by Director Conservation John Makombo, nine districts represented by Chief Administrative officers and a team from Space for Giants headed by CEO Dr. Max Graham.
The agreement is the first of its kind for Uganda; an expansion of the existing agreement between UWA, Karimojong Overland Safaris Ltd a private company and Pian Upe Community Wildlife Association. Under the deal, Space for Giants will raise new finances and become the day to day managers of the Reserve while UWA remains the sovereign authority on all major decisions with full regulatory oversight. The new deal will strengthen the existing agreement because more districts will be beneficiaries. The deal covers the districts of Nakapiripirit, Kween, Napak, Bulambuli, Bukedea, Katakwi, Kumi, Nabilatuk, and Amudat. More than 150,000 people live in the area surrounding Pian Upe. Jobs and business opportunities arising from the Reserve’s rejuvenation are expected to go to locals first.
DC Makombo welcomed the signing noting that it was a major step in sustainable conservation of the reserve and getting more benefits to the community. “This is a major step forward for conservation of Pian Upe. We hope to get more benefits for the local communities which will strengthen our collaboration with partners to commit to conservation. If everyone plays their part, there will be visible benefits to the communities,” he noted.
Pian Upe is Uganda’s second-largest protected area after Murchison Falls National Park. Established in 1964 and covering more than 2,000 sq km, it has 525 recorded bird species and 163 mammals including Uganda’s widest diversity of plains mammals that include cheetah, endangered African wild dog, a rare subspecies of roan antelope and giraffes. Thousands of elephants and rhinos used to roam the reserve but were lost to poaching.
Dr Max Graham, Founder and CEO, Space for Giants, said “Following seven years of collaborating with the Government of Uganda, Space for Giants is confident this partnership with UWA, the District Local Governments and Pian Upe Community Wildlife Association will restore and protect Pian Upe Game Reserve and its wildlife for the benefit of the country. Through this co-management partnership, the Ugandan Government sets in motion the process to fully restore Pian Upe as one of East Africa’s premiere Parks. In addition to investing in Pian Upe’s exceptional natural habitat and the conservation of its biodiversity, the co-management agreement also enhances its value for local communities and its economic contribution to the country and restore an iconic elephant landscape.”
Space for Giants will present a business plan to the initiative’s board within six months setting out in detail its approach and budget. It is expected finance will come primarily through selling carbon offsets, under a carbon project that has already been launched that seeks to secure the initial funding required to execute the project. Space for Giants will also seek complimentary philanthropic support for the project. Space for Giants was founded close to 20 years ago and today works in 10 African countries focusing on bringing outside investment and technical expertise to support African protected area authorities to conserve their wildlife and natural landscapes.