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Nile Basin Reforestation Project, Uganda


The Nile Basin Reforestation Project is a deal between the Ugandan Government represented by the National Forest Authority and the World Bank BioCarbon Fund, detailing improved conservation management practices in the Rwoho Central Forest Reserve gazetted woodland, including the reforestation of degraded grasslands to create 341.9 ha of timber plantations (pine and mixed native species) and sequester 29,795 t CO2-e. The project became the first African forestry project to be registered under the CDM in August 2009.

A central dynamic of CDM projects that this project exposes is the relationship between financial capital and local institutions and the scalar and spatial re-arrangements (or misalignments) that arise in attempts to commodify carbon and the resultant power relationships. Since the project protected area was established, grazing (which used to take place on the approximately 50 percent of deforested land now used for tree planting) has been criminalised, but by its own admission, the NFAs efforts to police the plantations have not worked and have given rise to conflicts with communities that have protested against their denial of access to forest resources by local communities, insensitive management styles, failure to deal with vermin and problem animals, and a lack of opportunity for communities to voice their concerns.

This precipitated the NFA decision to enter into collaborative forest management (CFM) both to quell dissent and to protect the plantations developed by private investors [1]. A report also questions the sincerity of the community participation, concerning rights to grazing, the overstating of potential economic benefits to communities and failing to accommodate community concerns. While expected to establish at least 20 per cent of the area (or about 400 hectares), only 70 of the 250 members (28 per cent) of the Rwoho Environmental Conservation and Protection Association (RECPA) have joined the project. There have been some limited employment benefits but there have been complaints that the contractors employing community members receive about 60 per cent of the payments, and there are allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest in regarding how local contracts for plantation work are awarded to outsiders (although these claim have not been verified by the research).

"The NFA has an agreement with community groups to pay them for the carbon for trees grown on National Forest Reserve land that they manage through a collaborative Forest Management agreement. This will amount to about 15% of the total carbon income, though this is dependent on the trees being maintained on the land. The issues that arise in these benefit sharing arrangements are that carbon benefits only go to a limited number of community members involved in the community association, so access depends on meeting criteria to join the association, and there is little understanding about the scale of benefits among the community association, which could result in risks for them and the NFA as the project progresses." (see attached file, UNREDD)

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Nile Basin Reforestation Project, Uganda
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Carbon offsets
Ecosystem Services

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Uganda Nile Basin Reforestation project establishes 2,000 hectares of pine and mixed native species plantations in the Rwoho Central Forest Reserve, grassland areas previously degraded due to deforestation and erosion. 29795 t of CO2-e offsets will be created.

Project area:2,000
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:National Forest Authority of Uganda (NFA) from Uganda
Relevant government actors:Government of Uganda, Government of Italy (Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea)
International and Finance InstitutionsWorld Bank BioCarbon fund
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
World Bank Carbon Finance Scheme
Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board (CDM Executive Board)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/CDM (UNFCC)
International Bank For Reconstruction And Development (IBRD) - It operates as the Trustee for the BioCarbon Fund
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Rwoho Environmental Conservation and Protection Association (RECPA)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Communities have protested against their ‘denial of access’ to forest resources by local communities, insensitive management styles, and a lack of opportunity for communities to voice their concerns’.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Uganda Forestry and Tree Planting Act

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Carbon Finance Unit

"The CDM Cannot Deliver the Money to Africa.", chapter 5

CDMs documents

The CDM Cannot Deliver the Money to Africa. Why the carbon trading gamble won’t save the planet from climate change, and how African civil society is resisting, EJOLT REPORT

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Norwatch (2000) ‘Norwegian Tree Plantations, Carbon Credits and Land Conflicts in Uganda’

Carbon trading in Africa, A critical review (Institute of Security Studies)

TimberWatch (2009) ‘Potential Impacts of Tree Plantation Projects under the CDM An African Case Study

Other comments:For the companies involved, please review the CDM documents.
For the NFA 2004-05 was the first year of operations and the institution received activity-specific funding from two donor arrangements:
1) Under the Forest Resource Management and Conservation Project from the EC/European Development Fund the NFA receives 2.6 million euros, ending 2006. 2006 is the last year of the programme, with an estimated funding of 1.6 million euros.
2) UK Department for International Development and Norway provided 3.3 million euros as a Start-Up Fund to co-fund infrastructure development and to provide working capital for the establishment phase of the NFA. The programme ends 2007, and 2.5 million euros remains for 2006 and 2007.

Meta information

Contributor:Patrick Bond, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Centre for Civil Society)
Last update25/06/2014