Uganda Wildlife Authority has obtained the Forest Stewardship Council forest management certificate for three national parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP), and Kibale National Park (KNP). The three national parks make a combined area of 211,100 hectares one of the increases largest in FSC Forest Management (FM) certified area in Eastern Africa in a single year.
The certification process started in 2018 when FSC launched the National Forest Stewardship Standard of the Republic of Uganda followed by UWA launching the preparedness process to familiarise its workforce with FSC principles, criteria, and indicators and then hired Soil Association Ltd., an audit company with FSC accreditation, to conduct evaluations in 2022.
The UWA executive Director Sam Mwandha expressed UWA excitement at the certification and commitment towards the conservation of Uganda’s wildlife heritage. “”The certification is testament to UWA’s resolve and commitment to conserve Uganda’s national heritage in a responsible manner, while ensuring that ecosystems, wildlife, and communities live in harmony. We pledge to work even harder and bring all forested protected areas in our care under the same certification as we work for the economic, social, and biodiversity viability of our protected areas.”
Mr. Richard Kapere, Conservation Planning Manager and in charge of FSC and Climate Change portfolios at UWA, said the institution collaborated with FSC Eastern Africa on a pilot project to test 10 FSC principles in three national parks. Kapere expressed appreciation to World Wide Fund for nature WWF Uganda Country Office for supporting the the pilot project.
Commenting on UWA’s achievement, Dr. Harrison Kojwang, Senior Advisor, FSC International hailed the institution for good conservation work done in the 3 national parks, “the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) deserves praise for guiding the processes that culminated in the certification of three of its renowned national parks in 2022.”
Dr. Harrison Kojwang applauded FSC Eastern Africa for the achievement of the FSC certification milestone. “Congratulations to Ms. Annah Agasha, the coordinator of FSC Eastern Africa, who worked closely with UWA to achieve such a big milestone for Eastern Africa. It is an accomplishment of tremendous proportions. I am hoping that other Eastern Africa governments will follow, expanding the area of the continent that is FM-certified and growing the prospects for applying the FSC’s ecosystem services procedure, he said “
Dr. Peter Alele, Regional Director, FSC Africa noted that Nature is critical for our survival, and its sustainable use is vital for humans affirms FCS’s commitment to working with stakeholders. “FSC certification offers an innovative and people-centred process that is trusted around the world as an effective approach for sustainable forest management. As adoption of the FSC increases in the region, we are committed to collaborating with stakeholders and partners to support their plans for growth and development that sustains environmental, economic, and social benefits’, he said.
UWA is hopeful that the FSC certification will contribute to even better management of protected areas. By implementing FSC standards, it hopes to improve tourism, forest management, brand development, and public trust and encourage visitors to travel to Uganda’s FSC-certified protected areas, UWA plans to use the occasion for “green tourism promotion.”
Along with the Forest Management (FM) certification, UWA and FSC will implement the ecosystem services procedure, a project designed to provide incentives for the preservation of important ecosystem services in sustainably managed forests.