Uganda’s biodiversity plan: challenges and ambitions

Trees integrated into an agricultural landscape in Uganda. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Gerald Ongodia


By Chetan Kumar, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)


Uganda and other developing nations explain the challenges of meeting global targets for biodiversity, at the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 14).

A high-level discussion brought together representatives from Uganda, Rwanda, Peru and Honduras to discuss the contribution that trees on farms can make to reaching their countries’ national and global commitments to biodiversity.

Trees on Farms as a Path to Accelerate Progress on Aichi Biodiversity Target 7 (‘By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity’) was held on Monday 19 November 2018 at 18:15 in the El Salam conference room, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Francis Ogwal, natural resources management specialist with the National Environment Management Authority, who is also Uganda’s CBD focal point, spoke earlier this year with Yves Zinngrebe during the launch of the Harnessing the Potential of Trees on Farms for Meeting National and Global Biodiversity Targets (Trees on Farms) project in Uganda. The project is supported by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Government of Germany.

Ogwal was asked about Uganda’s experience with its National Biodiversity and Action Plan and the key challenges in translating global targets, including intersectoral cooperation, participatory processes in NBSAP design and implementation achievements and challenges related to trees on farms.

According to Ogwal, Uganda developed its first NBSAP in 2002, with a rolling lifespan of 10 years. After a review in 2012, NBSAP II, 2015–2025, was finalised through consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including government, civil society, indigenous people and the private sector.

One of the key challenges faced in the preparation of NBSAP II was the lack of baseline data as well as the interdisciplinary capacity to analyse and develop future scenarios.

Unlike NBSAP I, which did not have targets, NBSAP II now has national biodiversity targets that provide a framework for measuring progress. They will be implemented by ‘target champions’, comprised of various government agencies.

“Forestry has restoration targets per year, and they can project those into the national plan,” explained Ogwal by way of example. “Shared targets emphasise the institution’s mandate for conservation and are an important step towards successful mainstreaming.”

However, the country needed more time for institutional learning and technical capacity building, according to Ogwal, because there were only five years left for reaching the Aichi Targets after finalizing the NBSAP.

NBSAP II has incorporated the Government’s priority development agenda as set out in National Vision 2040. As a result, NBSAP II has been mainstreamed into the National Development Plan II. NBSAP II also aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals. Uganda is extending the NBSAP so that activities will continue to 2025, even though the Aichi Targets are meant to be achieved by 2020.

Ogwal emphasized that assessing progress was critical. Uganda needed more funding for collecting and reporting reliable data. In particular, to assess the contribution of trees on farms to reaching the various targets, more social data was needed, such as farmers’ motivations for planting trees, and whether livelihoods have improved or not. Data on each target was critical. How much is there? What more is needed? The current NBSAP does not address this, which needs to be rectified in the next iteration, including training in new tools and approaches.

Ogwal argued that biodiversity should be given the same priority as other environmental challenges, like climate change. Synergies between the topics needed to be explored.

“Biodiversity is the best option for climate-change interventions,” he argued. “The global community needs to prioritise biodiversity because it embraces all issues.”.

Ogwal also emphasised the need for the conventions and projects to work together to create synergies, something that can begin at COP14.


The CBD COP 14 is expected to lay the groundwork for the post-2020 agenda for biodiversity, and build momentum for a “global deal for nature” and people.

One of the key focusses of the CBD COP14 is progress on achieving the Aichi Targets by the countries and what needs to be done to significantly accelerate implementation.

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and its partners — International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Center for International Forestry Research — are at CBD COP 14 to draw attention to the importance of trees on farms for biodiversity. Read more here.

Chetan Kumar is the manager, Landscape Restoration Science, and Knowledge with the Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, International Union for Conservation of Nature.



This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.



The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

You may also like...