BMCT is working with reformed poachers to help them uphold and appreciate the value of conservation through providing them with income generating projects to enable them improve their livelihood and become active agents of conservation in their communities
Pocket (private) forest owners of kisoro district have joined BMCT in its fight against climate change with the practice of indigenous tree planting in their communities and their forests. BMCT's major aim of distributing indigenous tree seedlings, is to increase forest cover and provide alternative sources of wood for fuel and other uses of indegenous trees like medicine for the people who initially obtained these from the park
James Sebahash has been surviving as a herbalist and craftsman for past 30years.
As a herbalist, he treats a number of ailments including diarrhea, dislocation, malaria, tonsolites, children who fail to walk, cough and a collapsed forehead especially in children.
“My father used to do the same and I have been doing this job for the past 30 years. I started learning handicraft from my late father in 1966”, He said.
Birikano David has been a blacksmith for over 20 years. He goes to Kisoro and Kabale towns to buy scrap like car springs, poles and charcoal as raw materials for blacksmithing.
Bikirano uses poles to support his structure and charcoal as fuel. He recalls that initially, he used iron ore from Kabale and Kisoro but this mineral has increasingly become scarce as mining ndustries have been set up in the araes making local access difficult.
Speaking from his home, Bikirano was concerned about the lack of community interest in blacksmithing.
Francis Ahorwendeye, SingirumukizaDamaseni, EriaBigirinwano are members of the same family and have survived on wood work to fend for their families.
The skills were inherently passed on from their parents and they solely used to depend on forest resources as raw materials for their artifacts.
With the gazetting of the national forests these traditional craftsmen have witnessed a scarcity of their raw materials like wood for curving.
The BwindiMgahinga Conservation Trust (BMCT) introduced them to the idea of planting trees and sourcing raw materials from communities rather than directly depending on forests.
Communities adjacent to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park have got a Tourism and Training Centre code-named, “Rwerere Enterprise and Training Centre (RECTC). The benefitting communities include the three parishes of Rukongi and Gitenderi in Nyarusiza sub-county and Gisozi in Muramba Sub-county in KisoroDistrict.
The purpose of the RECTC is to promote tourism, conservation and sustainable livelihood among communities in the BwindiMugahanga Conservation Area (BMCA).
RECTC is a brainchild of transformational tourism that engaged multi-stakeholders to achieve sustainable development and conservation. Construction of the centre started in 2010 and was completed in 2015.
Households of the KabareBatwa Settlement Association in Rukongi parish Nyarusiza Subcounty in Kisoro district have been given sheep to improve their livelihood. The communities were first sensitized and asked to write proposal which were vetted at the parish level.
16 sheep worth shs.1.6 million was given to families by the BwindiMgahingaConservation Trust (BMCT) in conjuction with the Kisoro Local Government officials on 3rdNovember 2016.
The Nyarusiza Community DevelopmentOfficer Kisoro district TumwebazeAnnete said the committee at parish level vetted for six projects and finally three got support after vetting at the sub county level.
One of the supported Mutwa girl who has been supported by BMCT over the years with tuition and other relevant school materials completed Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE).
A 20 - year old ScorahTumwebaze is a first year students pursuing Bachelor of Social Works and Social Administration (SWASA) at Uganda Christian University, Bishop Barham Campus in Kabale.
Tumwebaze, who is the last born in a family of four ( 3girls and a boy) was picked and supported by BMCT from Kashasha Primary School in Kabale while in Primary four and transferred to Shalom Foundation Nursery and Primary school in Kisoro.
Over 760 Batwa pupils from BwindiMgahinga Conservation Area (BMCA)have received scholastic materials as part of government and donar efforts to motivate and retain children in schools and improve the community literacy rates. The scholastic materials were supplied by BwindiMgahinga Conservation Trust (BMCT)
BMCT was established by a Trust Deed in 1994 to support research and community development projects that promote conservation of the biodiversity of Mgahinga Gorilla and Bwindi impenetrable Forest National Parks, an ecosystem in which half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas in the world reside.
BMCT Trust Administrator Dr. Wilson Bamwerinde said, the Batwa have strongly benefitted from the educational support given to them by the BMCT.
The Government of Uganda with assistance from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and BwindiMgahingaConservation Trust (BMCT) have acquired 406 acres of land estimated at Shs 4.06bn for the Batwa who had not accessed land.
These included the land less communities in the districts of Kabale, Kanungu, Rubanda and Kisoro which has made 43.6% of the Batwa own land.
The Trust Administrator Dr.Wilson Bamwerinde said this is part of BMCT Livelihoods Improvement Project aimed at supporting communities to reduce pressure on protected areas.
“About 300 households have been resettled (out of the total of 766)and 60 houses constructed. The purpose of supporting the Batwa is toprovide alternative sources of income to reduce dependence on the forests” He said.