A pilot project on Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration in Uganda

The project leader and some of the FMNR Champions during field work (©Bonny Jjemba)

I’m called Jjemba Bonny, an alumnus of MSc Tropical Forestry from Uganda. I completed my studies in 2019 and my research project was done on Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in Mubende District, Uganda. FMNR is a simple land restoration technique that involves regeneration and management of trees from living stumps, roots or naturally growing seedlings on a farm. During my research, I found out that a large percentage of farmers were unaware about the technique. This encouraged me to design a project that will address the above challenge. After reading through the guidelines of the Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, I discovered that my project meets their criteria. I began my application process during the COVID-19 lockdown period in April 2020 and submitted it in late June 2020. The application was reviewed by the Rufford Foundation in a period of 3 months from July to September, 2020, and I’m delighted to inform you that it was successful.

A female FMNR champion pruning a shoot on a stump of Markhamia lutea (©Bonny Jjemba)

The project title is, “Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration for restoring and keeping a maximum level of biodiversity on farmlands of Gogonya Village, Kitenga Sub-county in Mubende District, Uganda”. It is funded by the UK based Rufford Foundation and it is a First Rufford Small Grant. The operation area is Gogonya village which is located in Kitenga Sub-county of Mubende District in Uganda. The goal of the project is to raise the awareness of farmers about the role of FMNR in biodiversity conservation and livelihood resilience to climate change, and improve their skills in the application of the technique. On this pilot project, we are engaged in two main activities: (1) sensitization of farmers about the importance of FMNR in biodiversity conservation and their livelihood improvement, and (2) training of farmers on how to practice FMNR on their farms.

Through this project, we are going to contribute to the Aichi Target 7 of the Convention on Biological Diversity which emphasizes sustainable management of land under agriculture and forestry. We will also contribute to the target of the Bonn Challenge of restoring 350 hectares of degraded land by 2030. The project started in October, 2020 and it will end in November, 2021. Currently, we have sensitized 63 farmers from Gogonya village about the importance of FMNR in biodiversity conservation and their livelihood. We have also selected 21 farmers and trained them on how to practice FMNR. The 21 farmers are going to act as FMNR champions in the village and they will lead others by example.

A male FMNR Champion pruning a naturally-growing Albizia shoot using a pruning shear while others were observing carefully (©Bonny Jjemba)
A male FMNR champion removing umwanted shoots on a small stump of Albizia in a crop farm (©Bonny Jjemba)

Before concluding, I can’t forget to thank Prof. Kapp for the dedicated support he gave to me during the application process. Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to review and provide technical guidance that contributed to the success of my application. The only challenge I experienced was related to late delivery of reference letters from some of my referees, and this increased the reviewing period of my application by the foundation. I would like to conclude by extending my sincere thanks to our beloved instructors at the Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products for the quality of teaching they offer to international students.

By Jjemba Bonny

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