Paying local communities for ecosystem services: The Chimpanzee Conservation Corridor


Chimpanzees in Uganda are under threat as their habitat is lost to agriculture and human settlements. Central to this problem is the attitude of most farmers that chimpanzees and forest habitat conservation are a threat to their own livelihoods. IIED and Chimpanzee Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) aim to show how an equitable and financially sustainable payment scheme can compensate local landholders for conserving and restoring forest habitats and for protecting chimpanzee populations.

This video highlights the key work chimpanzee monitors do to protect chimpanzee livelihoods in Uganda. Local communities are often blamed for forest degradation but this work in partnership with CSWCT highlights the role of local champions in forest conservation and reduction of human-chimpanzee conflict.


Uganda is rich in biodiversity and has more species of primates than anywhere else on Earth of similar area. It is particularly noted for its chimpanzee population, estimated at 5,000 individuals. But the survival of chimpanzees throughout Uganda is under threat. This is because of the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and fragmentation due to agriculture and human settlement, and conflicts with farmers. At the heart of this problem is the fact that most farmers do not see chimpanzees and the conservation of forest habitats as a contribution to their livelihoods. They see it as a threat. Incentive schemes need to be developed that tackle the problem at source by appropriately compensating farmers and providing tangible incentives for conservation.

This project set up a payments for environmental services (PES) scheme to provide incentives to individual landowners to conserve and restore forest habitats important for chimpanzees and other flora and fauna. By making forest conservation a livelihood opportunity, a payment scheme can give social benefits as well as meeting environmental aims. We now have secured further funding for two years to deliver additional livelihood incentives to demonstrate its long-term commitment to improved social welfare and enhancement of conservation outcomes. Our main aim will now be to have more than 50% of contracted forest owners engaged in additional forest based enterprises that ultimately improve their short-term and long-term household income potentials thereby making biodiversity conservation a more attractive land-use option.

The project focuses on an area of private and communal land between the Budongo and Bugoma forest reserves in the Hoima District. This area forms part of the northern corridor for chimpanzees and is home to some of Uganda’s largest chimpanzee populations living outside the protected areas.

Clearing of forests for cash crops such as tobacco and rice in this area is threatening the survival of these chimpanzee populations. This fragmentation of forests also risks isolating the populations in the Budongo and Bugoma reserves, therefore halting natural inter-breeding across different populations. Further, the loss of these forest habitats is also threatening other ecosystem services in particular carbon storage and access to clean water.

The project team will work with smallholder farmers in a participatory process. Forest management practices needed to conserve chimpanzee habitats in the corridor area will be determined. This will be alongside working out the payment packages of cash and in-kind support measures which will provide incentives for conservation.

The ecosystem services produced by the proposed scheme, in particular carbon and biodiversity, will be estimated in a rigorous process to meet the needs of the relevant standard-setting organisations such as CCBS and VCS for carbon. This will provide the necessary base for attracting buyers and finance. The most appropriate institutional arrangements for operating the scheme will be worked out, building on local organisational capacity.

A key priority will be to make sure that systems are in place such as a estimated ‘without PES baseline scenario’ and control group surveys.  This means that the scheme can be rigorously checked for its biodiversity and livelihood benefits at a later stage. In this way it will avoid credibility problems experienced by PES schemes, which often lack an adequate counterfactual or control group for comparison.

Project objectives

To design, test and set up an equitable and financially sustainable payment scheme to compensate local landholders for conserving and restoring forest habitats in order to protect chimpanzee populations as well as show the effectiveness of PES.

Based on the outcomes and registered successes of the main project, the post project funding will create additional opportunities for long-term livelihood improvement amongst participants in the PES scheme. The design of the PES scheme identified broad management interventions and limited the implementation of the main project to selected contractual interventions that the experimental payments would cover leaving out the other recommended management options.


The project will create incentives for local communities to conserve and restore forest habitats important for chimpanzees as well as other biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The lessons from this scheme will be used by the Government of Uganda in a replication strategy for PES in other critical forest areas.

The project will strengthen the Government’s capacity to promote forest carbon projects with biodiversity and livelihood benefits, allowing it to access emerging REDD finance streams to meet CBD commitments.


Coverage in the Darwin Initiative April 2013 newsletter


The Darwin Initiative

The Darwin Initiative assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to meet their objectives under one or more of the three major biodiversity Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES); and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), through the funding of collaborative projects which draw on UK biodiversity expertise.


Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust

CSWCT was set up as a combined national and international initiative and a globally recognized collaborative conservation effort, geared towards developing and carrying out a long-term strategy for conservation of chimpanzees and their habitat. As well as managing Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, CSWCT carries out conservation programmes targeting in-situ chimpanzee conservation through education, research, community development and other participatory institutional arrangements. In 2007, CSWCT set up a conservation and education programme in Hoima district, working with local communities in Hoima District to promote chimpanzee conservation.

National Environment Management Authority 

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is a semi-autonomous institution that was established by an Act of parliament in May 1995 and became operational in December 1995. NEMA is specifically mandated by the National Environment Act (NEA), Cap. 153 as the main agency in Uganda charged with the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring, supervising and regulating all environmental management matters in the country.

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