Budongo Ecotourism

Ecotourism in Uganda: Protecting wildlife and increasing local incomes
Key Staff Members: 

Building on its experience working in Uganda since 1996, JGI, in partnership with the Ugandan National Forest Authority (NFA), launched the Budongo ecotourism project in 2006 with funding from the American people through the United States Agency for International Development. The goal of the project was to provide sustainable revenue generating opportunities from ecotourism to support the protection and maintenance of Budongo. The ecotourism site is located within Uganda’s Budongo Central Forest Reserve, which is home to critical populations of chimpanzees and other endangered species.

JGI has worked in Budongo since 2006 to improve the site’s infrastructure such as tourist accommodations, the visitor centre, and campsite and walking trails, as well as develop capacity to allow the National Forest Authority and other local organizations to engage in conservation activities and generate revenue from ecotourism.

Today, JGI has returned management of the site to the Ugandan National Forest Authority.

Background

Human encroachment, poaching, and a lack of income-generating activities in the local human populations are pressuring the availability of natural resources in and around the Budongo Forest Reserve. In order to combat these threats, JGI has increased the capacity of local ecoguards and government employees to manage protected areas, engaged local communities in land-use and natural resource-use planning, promoted sustainable livelihoods, and educated students about wildlife and the importance of healthy ecosystems.

Key Project Activities:

At the onset of the project, JGI built a new environmentally friendly visitors center and lodge and renovated existing accommodations. JGI also improved, expanded and continued to maintain forest trails used for chimpanzee trekking and other ecotourism activities such as birding. Since the project began, JGI has trained, equipped, and employed local community members, providing them with an alternative source of income to cutting down natural forest to use as fuel or to sell.  In order to ensure chimpanzee health and human safety, JGI developed a manual that provides guidelines for chimpanzee viewing in the wild.  JGI also trained forest guides in chimpanzee ecology and behavior.

Highlights

  • Placement of 203,800+ acres (82,500 hectares) of forest under improved management;
  • Employment for 24 local community members;
  • Training for 230 nearby community members in construction of woodlots, which reduce reliance on natural forest;
  • Training for 55+ local community members in forest-friendly businesses, such as craft making, beekeeping and farming;
  • Training for 30 guides, chimpanzee habituators and community patrols; and
  • An average of 5,000 guests at the lodge each year.
  • Visits by more than 2,100+ local elementary school students to the Budongo environmental education center, which helps raise awareness about the forest and its species among the next generation of local community members;
  • Environmental education trainings for 30 nearby elementary school teachers;

As a result of these interventions, Budongo Forest Reserve has received a greater level of protection.  In addition, during the first year of operation under JGI, revenue from chimpanzee tourism at the reserve increased from $5,000 to $190,000.

In March of 2010, JGI’s ecotourism site in Uganda was selected as one of 12 finalists for the 2011 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards by the World Travel & Tourism Council.  JGI-Uganda was nominated in the category that recognizes organizations and destinations that have made a significant contribution toward the protection of wildlife and expansion and restoration of natural habitat. The awards, which were divided into four categories, were drawn from 186 entries from more than 60 countries. JGI-Uganda’s Budgongo Ecotourism Development Project was nominated for the conservation category.

This project was made possible with funding and support from the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Associates Inc. (DAI), and the Ugandan National Forest Authority.  The contents are the responsibility of the Jane Goodall Institute, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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