|Town/Region||Bwindi Impenetrable National Park|
|Categories||Communities, Ecotourism, Farming, People|
|Date||8 Feb 2007|
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) in Uganda is globally famous as home to half of the world population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, which attract thousands of visitors to the forest every year. In theory, this tourism should bring benefits for both conservation and local communities, helping to resolve conflict between people and the park. However, in practice, the majority of revenue ‘leaks’ out of the area, leaving local people with little to show for the tourism taking place in their midst. One important reason for this high rate of leakage is that most perishable food products used by the tour camps are not locally sourced. Instead, despite the fertility of the land around Bwindi, the great majority of foods are purchased in major towns many hours drive from the forest. Meanwhile, subsistence farmers living close to the park boundary use damaging agricultural practices which degrade the environment, and live in conflict with the National Park because its existence deprives them of access to traditional income generating activities. This situation threatens the future wellbeing of both the park and the surrounding human population.
The concept behind Bwindi Advanced Market Gardeners’ Association (AMAGARA – ‘life’ in the local language Rukiga), is that if local farmers can be helped to produce and market foods for the tourism industry, they will receive a much needed boost to their household income, and be given a powerful incentive to conserve forest resources. Bwindi AMAGARA aims to achieve this goal by acting as a bridge between farmers and the tourism industry, training members in target crop production and natural resource management, helping them to bulk and process their produce, and finally marketing it to the tour camps. Income for farmers gained from the project will be directly associated with sustainable agriculture and protection of the National Park for tourism, thereby creating a strong link between conservation and economic development for participant households. This will help to ensure the future of both the forest and the local human population.
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