Pressure on chimpanzee habitat declines as farmers’ yields increase 15 fold

Pressure on chimpanzee habitat declines as farmers’ yields increase 15 fold


When over 1000 Ugandan small holder farmers adopted WCS conservation farming practices they increased crop-based income 15 fold and halted clearing on 2700 hectares of riverside forest


Following the end of the civil war in 1986 refugee families began to return to their lands in the Murchison-Semliki region of Uganda that contain the last remaining natural forest in the country outside of protected areas. These riverside forests form corridors connecting the national parks and are vital habitat for chimpanzees. To feed their growing families farmers began to clear the forest to plant crops. Traditional agricultural practices quickly exhaust the soil and farmers are forced to deforest new areas. Between 2006 and 2010 WCS sound science showed that farmers were clearing nearly 8,000 ha of forest each year. Unless this changed the forest and its resident chimpanzee would soon disappear. In an attempt to avert this deforestation trend WCS joined forces with the Jane Goodall Institute and the Chimpanzee Trust. Initially we hoped that we could help farmers to capture the value of their trees by selling their stored carbon in the voluntary REDD+ market place. But the high cost of certifying the carbon for sale and the low price of forest carbon made this idea untenable. At WCS we adapted our plans and began offering farmers training in zero tillage farming that conserves nutrients and soil moisture, which is critical as rains become less predictable with climate change. Farmers who adopted the less capital intensive conservation farming methods saw their maize yields increase 2-fold and their net revenue by 15-fold. Today over 1000 farmers are using conservation farming technique that preserve soil fertility and crop productivity dramatically reducing the need to clear more forest. Analysis of forest cover change using the Global Forest Watch interactive mapper shows that deforestation has visibly declined in areas under conservation farming. In lila was forest before the start of the REDD+ project; in green the forest still today and although it is difficult to quantify a 1 to 1 cause and effect relationship it show that deforestation was a lot less where our Private Forest Owners/conservation farmers live.


Saving Species IconSPECIES: More accurate survey methods using genetic markets in dung showed that the corridor forests are home to at least 300 chimps in 9 groups, far more than the 70 estimated using nest counts. This confirms that these corridor forests in the Murchison-Semliki region of western Uganda are critically important for conserving the nation’s remaining chimpanzees.

Protecting Habitat IconHABITAT: Over 1000 conservation farmers are maintaining the integrity of the forest corridors connecting two major protected forest blocks, Budongo in the north and Bugoma in the south providing vital habitat for at least 300 chimpanzees.

Strengthening Management IconMANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS: By the end of 2016, 30 community members had been trained by WCS and were offering agricultural extension services to farmers on how to prepare their fields using conservation farming techniques. Extension workers also provide farmers who adopt conservation farming methods with needed inputs, such as improved seeds and some mineral fertilizers (that unlike those produced using fossil fuels do not increase greenhouse gas emissions) Farmers then repay these “loans” by contributing their cash value into their cooperative business saving group. In this way they can collectively build up the capital they need to purchase needed inputs for the next growing season.

Effective Governance IconGOVERNANCE: WCS has built upon the efforts of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT), who helped farmers to come together into 13 Private Forest Owners Associations. Each association services as a forum for knowledge sharing and a Business Saving Groups where members pool their savings and can get a loan with interest rates that are far lower than they could obtain from micro-finance organizations.

Securing Livelihoods IconLIVELIHOODS: Conservation farmers have increased the value of their fields from $12 to $192 per acre or 1478%. In the first year, 60 conservation farmers produced 15 T of maize, in the second year over 1000 farmers, planted 40 hectares of maize, producing 400 T for sale and local consumption. Prior to this WCS program households experienced food scarcity one or twice a year and raiding animals would make things worse and farmers in retaliation would kill wildlife near their fields and cut down their forest habitat. The significantly increase income farmers gain from participating in this program has reduced their motivation for clearing forest and increased their willingness to live with wildlife.


ResultsTraditionalConservation Farming Var%
yield per acre (Kgs)7102,0051,295182%
production cost per acre (USD) $ 154.61 $ 274.37 12077%
cost of producing 1 Kg of Maize (USD) $ 0.22 $ 0.14 0-37%
selling price per Kg. (USD) $ 0.24 $ 0.24

gross revenue per acre. (USD) $ 167.12 $ 471.81

net profits per a Kg (USD) $ 0.02 $ 0.08 0376%
net profits per are (USD) $ 12.51 $ 197.44 1851478%

TABLE & GRAPH: Conservation farming dramatically increased farmer income from the same are of farmland.

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