“A funny place to store carbon” Chapter 5

30 Dec

IUCN AND NORAD

By Chris Lang and Timothy Byakola, published by WRM, December 2006

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IUCN’s involvement at Mount Elgon helps provide legitimacy for the UWA-FACE project. For example, a brochure produced by the UWA-FACE project explains that “For public awareness concerning conservation, the project collaborates with environmental NGOs operating within and around the park, such as . . . Mt. Elgon Conservation & Development Project.”[211] But while it provides legitimacy, IUCN has done little or nothing to prevent evictions from Mount Elgon National Park.

IUCN has been working with Mount Elgon management since 1988, providing technical assistance to the Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project. Funding for the project came from the Norwegian government. At first the Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project “focused on re-establishing protected area boundaries and establishing ranger patrols to stop further encroachment and over-exploitation of resources,” wrote Sean White, then-IUCN’s Chief Technical Advisor at Mount Elgon, and David Hinchley in a 2001 article in WWF and IUCN’s Forest Conservation Newsletter. Smith and Hinchley argue that this was partially successful but comment that this “led to conflict with surrounding communities”.[212] This can only be described as an understatement. Also, White and Hinchley play down the fact that the conflicts are ongoing for many of the communities surrounding the park.

White and Hinchley explain that as a response to the conflict with communities, the project started an agricultural extension programme around the park, focussing on “developing alternative resource use and increasing on-farm income through improved animal and crop production techniques, soil conservation, agroforestry etc”.[213]

IUCN developed a “collaborative management approach” and set up trials in several villages, which “showed the potential of collaborative management as each resulted in reduced encroachment into the park,” according to White and Hinchley.[214]

In 2002, the Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project came to an end and was replaced the Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme which operates in both Kenya and Uganda. Again funding came from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), and IUCN once again provided technical assistance. The goal of the Programme was “Integrated ecosystem conservation and management for sustainable development and enhanced well-being to people and the environment.”[215]

IUCN has published several articles and a book about its role at Mount Elgon. A 1998 book, “From Conflict to Collaboration” by Penny Scott, who worked as a technical advisor with IUCN, documents in detail the various uses of the forest by local communities around the park. Most of the book is focussed on people rather than on the park and is largely sympathetic to people living in and around the park. She concludes that “extractive use of various timber and non-timber forest products, if properly monitored and controlled, is not necessarily a threat to biodiversity.”[216] However, the report skips over the ongoing conflicts between the park management and local people.

A 2003 article published in IUCN’s Parks magazine, written by Purna Chhetri, ex-Chief Technical Adviser for IUCN at Kibale National Park, Arthur Mugisha, ex-Executive Director of UWA and Sean White, ex-Chief Technical Advisor for IUCN at Mount Elgon, describes IUCN’s role at Mount Elgon. According to Chhetri, Mugisha and White, IUCN’s models for collaborative resource management,

    “allow people access to selected resources under certain conditions. In return the resource users undertake to monitor and regulate resource harvesting levels and to protect the resource use areas. It is a ‘rights for responsibilities’ arrangement which empowers resource users to manage the resources on which they themselves depend. Formal agreements are negotiated and signed by UWA and by the resources user representatives.”[217]

Chhetri, Mugisha and White claim that UWA’s “collaborative approach to conservation” is “effective” and “addresses the real conflicts by providing a package of options and that it brings benefits to both local people and conservation.”[218] It all sounds very progressive: through collaborative management agreements that involve working with local people, argue the authors, IUCN has helped to resolve the conflicts between UWA and local people around Mount Elgon. But this argument means that IUCN needs to do no more than take a technical, facilitating role, and can avoid the need to address the real problems facing the communities around the park. As we have seen in Chapters 3 and 4, these problems are in fact serious and on-going.

Academics Linda Norgrove and David Hulme from the University of Manchester agree that a number of policies have been introduced at Mount Elgon, aimed at moving “national park management from a strategy based primarily on law enforcement to one including a variety of participatory management strategies”. However, they add,

    “as the pre-existing value conflicts between park managers and park neighbours were not negotiated or resolved, conflict remained at the heart of the park–people relationship. Park managers sought to use both old (law enforcement) and new (participatory) strategies to engineer coercion and consent and obstruct the efforts of local people to pursue their development initiatives. Park neighbours responded by continuing to practise both overt and covert resistance to the park.”[219]

Norgrove and Hulme describe the performance of the collaborative management agreements as “sub-optimal”. They explain the tension in the negotiations and the lack of power felt by villagers by quoting the comments of a villager in Kortek Parish: “We would like access to grazing within the forest and land for ploughing maize. However, since the government is more powerful than us even if they do not agree we must still accept the agreement.”[220]

Alex Muhweezi, IUCN’s Uganda country director, confirmed that collaborative resource agreements were “not ideal”. But, he added, “people would access resources in the park anyway, whether we like it or not.”[221]

The problems with the collaborative resource management agreements can be summarised as follows:

  • UWA is the law enforcement agency as well as the agency with which communities sign collaborative management agreements. UWA has 57 law enforcement rangers and nine community conservation rangers. UWA’s rangers receive para-military training, which may be a good preparation for law enforcement but is a poor training for community conservation duties.[222]
  • Agreements have been made in very few of the more than 500 villages surrounding Mount Elgon. UWA started testing the collaborative resource management agreements in 1996. Ten years later, only about 30 agreements have been signed between UWA and Resource Use Groups around the park.[223] Villages without the collaborative management agreements gain no benefits from the scheme.
  • There is a lack of coordination between IUCN and UWA’s work with communities and UWA’s law enforcement activities.[224] IUCN notes on its website that “In one parish, where a pilot collaborative management agreement had been negotiated, UWA-FACE staff involved in the reforestation programme prevented people who were legally entitled to collect park resources from doing so.”[225]
  • Even when agreements are signed, villagers may not implement the agreements. In Ulukusi Parish, for example, Linda Norgrove found that villagers have signed agreements allowing them some access to low-value resources, but villagers do little or nothing to monitor or enforce these agreements.[226] Once the agreements have been signed, UWA’s rangers lose interest and provide little support to resource use committees.[227]
  • IUCN and UWA staff acknowledge that “There is a tendency on the part of the rangers to rush the negotiation process and to develop agreements too quickly without the necessary degree of consultation and sensitisation.”[228]
  • Villagers have little choice about whether to sign the collaborative management agreements – no matter how restricting they are on villagers’ use of the park. Most agreements allow the harvesting of bamboo shoots and collection of medicinal plants but no more. If villagers decline, then UWA declares that all their use of the park is illegal. “It is built on a relationship of unequal power and is not an example of partnership, co-operation, negotiation or ‘win–win’ participation built on mutual trust and respect,” comment Linda Norgrove and David Hulme.[229]

Even the harshest critic of the collaborative management agreements would have to concede that they are an attempt (however flawed and perfunctory) to involve local people in the management of Mount Elgon National Park. But IUCN’s involvement of local people ends there. IUCN has made no attempt to prevent further evictions from the park.

Resettlement issues were left out of both of the NORAD funded projects at Mount Elgon. In 1999, an IUCN representative explained to a research team from the Centre for Development Studies of the University of Wales why the “Benet resettlement issue” was excluded from the Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project: “IUCN had a review and it recommended a new project and deleted the Benet issue. You see the Benet project is a big, big project on its own.”[230]

“I am not sure of the reasoning that led to the Benet issue being left out,” another IUCN officer told the research team. The IUCN officer then suggested that it may have been a result of “a combination of funding limitations and an expectation that it was going to be dealt with through other government processes.”[231]

The University of Wales research team concluded that the responsibility for resettlement is

    “being shifted between different parties; this comes across very clearly in the case of the IUCN. The Union has played a key role in the project, and has been instrumental in ‘facilitating’ resettlement planning but its representatives dissociate the organisation from any responsibility for involuntary resettlement or the long prolonged process of planning, funding and negotiating over resettlement.”[232]

Things have not changed much in the six years since the University of Wales team published its findings. NORAD commissioned a review of the Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme in 2005. The review describes IUCN’s position on the “Benet issue” as pointing to the state and the judiciary to resolve the conflicts, “rather than going in and try[ing] to solve the issue”. This is “reasonable”, according to the review team from the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. However, the review team comments that “the project hopefully can take on a conflict resolution role” and adds that a “more proactive and successful role” might improve IUCN and UWAs legitimacy with local people and could “improve chances for sustainability of programme ambitions”.[233]

In July 2006, in an interview in Mbale, IUCN’s country director, Alex Muhweezi, explained IUCN’s role at Mount Elgon. “IUCN is promoting sustainable development options to try to reduce the pressure for encroachment,” he said. Muhweezi told us that IUCN does not directly fund evictions but IUCN does fund UWA. UWA might use IUCN money for food parcels while the evictions are being carried out, he told us.[234]

Whether or not IUCN’s money is used to fund evictions, in failing to do address the issue of evictions at Mount Elgon, IUCN is in breach of its own policy on Protected Areas.

At the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress held in Durban, South Africa, participants agreed a recommendation on Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas to “ensure that existing and future protected areas respect the rights of indigenous peoples”. The recommendation also called on governments, inter-governmental organisations, NGOs, local communities and civil societies to “CEASE all involuntary resettlement and expulsions of indigenous peoples from their lands in connection with protected areas, as well as involuntary sedentarization of mobile indigenous peoples.”[235]

Another recommendation on Poverty and Protected Areas states that “Protected areas should strive to contribute to poverty reduction at the local level, and at the very minimum must not contribute to or exacerbate poverty.”[236]

IUCN has failed to apply these recommendations to its work at Mount Elgon. It has done nothing to prevent further evictions of indigenous peoples and local communities living in and around the park. It has done nothing to address land rights issues. As a result of the evictions and lack of land rights poverty has increased around Mount Elgon.

IUCN and the Katoomba Group

Perhaps one of the reasons for IUCN’s silence on the issue of evictions from Mount Elgon is that the organisation is very keen to see the UWA-FACE project succeed (or at least for the project to appear to be a success). IUCN has been involved in conservation at Mount Elgon for nearly 20 years and admitting failure at this stage would be embarrassing. But IUCN also has an interest in promoting successful examples of ecosystem markets. IUCN is a member of the Katoomba Group, an industry-friendly group which is “dedicated to advancing markets for some of the ecosystem services provided by forests – such as watershed protection, biodiversity habitat, and carbon storage.”[237] The Katoomba Group is involved in other carbon projects in Uganda and held its Eighth Public Meeting in Kampala in September 2005 (see Box: Carbon Forestry in Uganda).

In July 2006, Alex Muhweezi, IUCN’s Uganda country director, told us that representatives from Forest Trends recently came to visit Mount Elgon. Forest Trends is also a member of the Katoomba group. Forest Trends, Ecotrust-Uganda, and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) held a meeting in Kampala in September 2005 to “raise awareness of PES [payments for ecosystem services] among high-level stakeholders in Uganda”.[238] Muhweezi told us that “Mount Elgon is a model project for other carbon offset projects.”[239]

Carbon Forestry in Uganda


The FACE Foundation project at Mount Elgon and Kibale National Parks are not the first carbon projects in Uganda. The following is a brief outline of some of the other carbon projects in the country.In 1995, a Norwegian firm called Tree Farms (or Fjordgløtt, as it was then called) won a grant from NORAD to explore possibilities for tree planting in East Africa. The following year, Tree Farms started operations in Uganda and Tanzania (and later in Malawi). In Uganda, it obtained a very cheap 50-year lease on 5,160 hectares east of the town of Jinja in the Bukaleba Forest Reserve on Lake Victoria. Tree Farms planned to plant the land mainly with eucalyptus and fast-growing pines. The Ugandan government received a one-off fee of US$410 and an annual rent of US$4.10 for each hectare planted with trees. By 2001, 600 hectares had been planted. Allowing for inflation, Tree Farms paid Uganda less than US$11,000.


Tree Farms’ land was not empty. In 2000, five fishing and farming villages were inside the Tree Farms area in Bukaleba Forest Reserve. People from at least eight villages around the forest were cultivating land within the Tree Farms area. In 2000, forest authorities told Tree Farms that people living in or using the land in the forest reserve had been served notice to leave. Tree Farms has said that it can accept the presence of fishers in the reserve. Nevertheless, Tree Farms’ managing director stated that his company would not do “the dirty job of throwing them out” itself, but would leave that to the forest authorities.


Growing international criticism of this project, largely as a result of research carried out by Norwatch journalist Harald Eraker, prevented Tree Farms from claiming any carbon credits from the project.


Ecotrust, a Ugandan NGO, is running a carbon project called “Trees for Global Benefits” in Ruhinda and Bunyaruguru counties of Bushenyi District in western Uganda. Under the project, farmers plant trees on their land and Ecotrust buys the carbon stored. Among the buyers of the carbon is the UK-based Carbon Neutral Company (formerly known as Future Forests). The first carbon credit deals were signed in 2004 and 2005. A portion of the carbon bought by the Carbon Neutral Company was allocated to offset the carbon emissions of the Live 8 event. Tetra Pak UK, a company specialising in paper packaging for food products, is also buying carbon from Ecotrust.


Ecotrust is working with several international organisations on the project including the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), CARE and LTS International. Payments for the carbon credits go through European-based carbon broker, Bioclimatic Research and Development, via Ecotrust to the farmers planting the trees.


In 2004, a British firm called the New Forests Company leased two plots of land from the National Forest Authority: an area of 9,000 hectares in Namwasa Central Forest Reserve and 8,000 hectares in Luwunga Forest Reserve in Kiboga district. Luwunga Forest Reserve has people living in it. Julian Ozanne, the managing director of the National Forest Authority, has appealed to the government to help them out with the encroachers. Ozanne told New Vision that once the encroachers are “dealt with” they would plant trees at Luwunga. In July 2006, New Forests Company appointed Don Alborough as General Manager Uganda. Alborough previously worked at Mondi in South Africa – Mondi has over 500,000 hectares of industrial tree plantations.


In May 2006, New Vision reported that more than 1,000 people had occupied part of Namwasa forest reserve. The National Forest Authority said that the encroachers were outside the area that they were planting with trees.


In July 2006, the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund signed an Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement in Uganda. The BioCarbon Fund is supporting a project to plant trees on an area of 2,127 hectares in the Rwoho Central Forest Reserve. Three-quarters of the trees are to be Pinus caribaea. According to the BioCarbon Fund’s website, “The share of native species used in the project is low as experiences on forest plantations based on native tree species are very limited in East Africa and further increasing the proportion of native tree species would increase the project risk.” The website notes that “The project will be established in areas without any land-use conflicts. However, migratory grazers are active in the area.”


Sources:


Bayon, Ricardo (2005) “From Ugandan Schoolteacher to International Carbon Consultant. A Profile of Beatrice Ahimbisibwe“, Ecosystem Marketplace.


Uganda: Nile Basin Reforestation“, BioCarbon Fund website.


Forest Trends (2005) “African Leaders Convene First Regional Forum To Explore Market-Based Conservation Strategies“, Forest Trends press release, 19 September 2005.


Kasozi, John (2006) “British Company Sets Up Large Forest Plantation“, New Vision, 10 April 2006.


New Forests Company website.


Larry Lohmann (Ed.) (2006) “Carbon Trading. A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power“, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Durban Group for Climate Justice and The Corner House, October 2006.


Tenywa, Gerald (2006) “Mubende Forest Attacked“, New Vision, 3 May 2006.


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REFERENCES AND FOOTNOTES

[211] UWA-FACE (no date) “Let the earth remain green”, UWA-FACE brochure.

[212] Sean White and David Hinchley (2001) “Managing Mt. Elgon“, in arborvitæ, The IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation Newsletter, no. 18, October 2001.

[213] Sean White and David Hinchley (2001) “Managing Mt. Elgon“, in arborvitæ, The IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation Newsletter, no. 18, October 2001.

[214] Sean White and David Hinchley (2001) “Managing Mt. Elgon“, in arborvitæ, The IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation Newsletter, no. 18, October 2001.

[215] Paul Vedeld, Astrid van Rooij, Frode Sundnes and Ivar T. Jørgensen (2005) “Final Appraisal of the Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP)“, Noragric Report No. 25, March 2005.

[216] Penny Scott (1998) “From Conflict to Collaboration: People and Forests at Mount Elgon, Uganda”, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge UK.

[217] Purna Chhetri, Arthur Mugisha and Sean White (2003) “Community resource use in Kibale and Mt Elgon National Parks, Uganda“, Parks: Conservation Partnerships in Africa, IUCN, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003.

[218] Purna Chhetri, Arthur Mugisha and Sean White (2003) “Community resource use in Kibale and Mt Elgon National Parks, Uganda“, Parks: Conservation Partnerships in Africa, IUCN, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003.

[219] Linda Norgrove and David Hulme (forthcoming) “Confronting conservation at Mount Elgon, Uganda“, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

[220] Linda Norgrove and David Hulme (forthcoming) “Confronting conservation at Mount Elgon, Uganda“, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

[221] Interview with Alex Muhweezi in Mbale by Timothy Byakola, Jutta Kill and Chris Lang. 19 July 2006.

[222] Purna Chhetri, Arthur Mugisha and Sean White (2003) “Community resource use in Kibale and Mt Elgon National Parks, Uganda“, Parks: Conservation Partnerships in Africa, IUCN, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003.

[223] Stonewall Kato and James Okot-Okumu (2006) “The role of community based institutions in sustainable management of forest, water and soil: A case study of Mount Elgon ecosystem, Uganda“, A paper presentation at the 11th Biennial Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property in Bali, Indonesia, 19-23 June 2006.

[224] Sean White and David Hinchley (2001) “Managing Mt. Elgon“, in arborvitæ, The IUCN/WWF Forest Conservation Newsletter, no. 18, October 2001.

[225] IUCN (no date) “Experience from a reforestation project in Uganda“, IUCN website.

[226] Linda Norgrove and David Hulme (forthcoming) “Confronting conservation at Mount Elgon, Uganda“, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

[227] Purna Chhetri, Arthur Mugisha and Sean White (2003) “Community resource use in Kibale and Mt Elgon National Parks, Uganda“, Parks: Conservation Partnerships in Africa, IUCN, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003.

[228] Purna Chhetri, Arthur Mugisha and Sean White (2003) “Community resource use in Kibale and Mt Elgon National Parks, Uganda“, Parks: Conservation Partnerships in Africa, IUCN, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2003.

[229] Linda Norgrove and David Hulme (forthcoming) “Confronting conservation at Mount Elgon, Uganda“, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

[230] Alan Rew, Eleanor Fisher and Balaji Pandey (2000) “Addressing Policy Constraints and Improving Outcomes in Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement Projects“, A review prepared for ESCOR and the Research Programme on Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement organised by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, January 2000.

[231] Alan Rew, Eleanor Fisher and Balaji Pandey (2000) “Addressing Policy Constraints and Improving Outcomes in Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement Projects“, A review prepared for ESCOR and the Research Programme on Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement organised by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, January 2000.

[232] Alan Rew, Eleanor Fisher and Balaji Pandey (2000) “Addressing Policy Constraints and Improving Outcomes in Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement Projects“, A review prepared for ESCOR and the Research Programme on Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement organised by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, January 2000.

[233] Paul Vedeld, Astrid van Rooij, Frode Sundnes and Ivar T. Jørgensen (2005) “Final Appraisal of the Mount Elgon Regional Ecosystem Conservation Programme (MERECP)“, Noragric Report No. 25, March 2005. page 26.

[234] When I asked Muhweezi about farmers around the Park, I avoided using the word encroachment – Muhweezi apparently has no qualms about describing farmers as “encroachers” (apparently including those who were farming the land before the national park existed).

[235] IUCN (2003) “Recommendation 24: Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas“, Vth World Parks Congress Recommendations, 8-17 September 2003, Durban.

[236] IUCN (2003) “Recommendation 29: Poverty and Protected Areas“, Vth World Parks Congress Recommendations, 8-17 September 2003, Durban.

[237] Katoomba Group website.

[238] Forest Trends (2005) “Katoomba Group Meetings – Kampala, Uganda, September 2005“, in Trendlines, The Forest Trends Newsletter, 19 December 1995.

[239] Interview with Alex Muhweezi in Mbale by Timothy Byakola, Jutta Kill and Chris Lang. 19 July 2006.

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