Uganda – Albertine Rift

Alternative incentives for watershed management in the Albertine Rift

The Albertine Rift refers to a branch of the Great Rift Valley that lies in western Uganda, along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Photo by V. Meadu

Photo by V. Meadu

The Albertine Rift is classified as an endemic bird area by Birdlife International, as a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International, and as a priority eco region by the Worldwide Fund for Nature. In addition, the mountains of the Albertine Rift are a World Heritage Site, its forests are a large carbon sink, and important source of water for homes, farms and hydropower production.

Increasing population and high poverty rates are exerting pressure on forest resources resulting in overall degradation of ecological processes.

Payments or rewards for environmental services have been piloted in this region, mainly focusing on carbon. To supplement these initiatives, PRESA focused on water degradation issues.

PRESA partnered with two organizations, Ecotrust Uganda and Nature Harness Initiatives (NAHI), to explore a wide range of incentive options for watershed management, not limited to upstream-downstream linkages alone.

In partnership with Ecotrust Uganda, through the Plan Vivo approach, 17 farmers are eligible for carbon payments (sequestering 5,735.88 tons of carbon dioxide) from trees established to enhance the River Mubuku watershed. Other incentives being explored to supplement upstream-downstream rewards include forest-based enterprises, ecolabelled handicrafts and engaging private sector companies for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Discussions were initiated with potential buyers for these alternative incentives. The potential buyers include the British American Tobacco company (BAT), McLeod Russel Uganda Limited and the Kisiizi mini hydro-electric dam. The potential for REDD incentives for watershed management was also explored by facilitating management planning for privately-owned forest patches as part of a larger REDD project to be implemented by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) of Uganda.

Next steps

  1. Work with NAHI to assess the opportunity costs of establishing agroforestry systems at Wambabya.
  2. Work with Ecotrust Uganda to build PRESA experiences into ongoing government processes, including REDD+ readiness development.

Site profile

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Environmental service

  • Carbon
  • Watershed services

Potential provider of environmental services

  • Local communities around sensitive ecosystems.

Potential buyers

  • Hydro electric power producers
  • Industries, such as tea and tobacco companies
  • Tour operators
  • Carbon offset buyers