Biodiversity Legislation

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The history of conservation through Protected areas dates back to the pre-colonial history before the modern state of Uganda was created first as a British Protectorate in 1894 and later as an independent state in 1962. In the period preceding 1900, Protected Areas covering key biodiversity resources such as National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Forest Reserves, Wetlands that host aquatic resources such as fisheries, and other forms of fauna and flora existed in the form of hunting grounds, cultural and spiritual grounds which were protected through customary rules and practices. The dawn of the colonial era saw the colonization and transformation of the hitherto community protected areas and their establishment into Parks and Reserves governed under various forms and pieces of Legislations. After the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution, a whole set of legal regime that provides for the current establishment and management of Protected Areas in Uganda, were enacted to give effect to the various Policies discussed earlier. These include:

The National Environment Act, 1995 (Cap 153 of 2000).

The National Environment Act Cap 153 addresses the inadequacies of previous natural resource legislations. It introduces the participatory approach in natural resources management, biodiversity conservation, and the recognition of International Treaties including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ramsar and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The Act establishes the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), which is the principal agency concerned with environmental management in Uganda mandated to coordinate, supervise and monitor all activities in the field of the environment.

The Act provides for NEMA to issue guidelines and prescribe measures for the conservation of biological diversity. NEMA may in issuing guidelines:-

a) specify national strategies, plans and programmes for the conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity;

b) integrate the conservation and sustainable utilization ethic in relation to biological diversity in existing government activities and activities of private persons;

c) determine which components of biological diversity are threatened with extinction;

d) Identify potential threats to biological diversity and devise measures to remove or investigate their effects.

e) Issue guidelines and prescribe measures for the sustainable management and utilization of the genetic resources of Uganda for the benefit of the people of Uganda.

f) Issue guidelines and prescribe measures for the sustainable management and utilization of rangelands.

g) The Act further provides for NEMA to prescribe measures to ensure the conservation of biological resources in situ as well as issue guidelines for:-

(i). Land use methods that are compatible with the conservation of biological diversity;

(ii). The selection and management of Protected Areas so as to promote the conservation of the various terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of Uganda;

(iii). The selection and management of buffer zones near Protected Areas;

(iv). Special measures for protection of species, ecosystems, and habitats faced with extinction;

(v). Prohibiting or controlling the introduction of alien species;

(vi). Integrating traditional knowledge for the conservation of biological diversity with mainstream scientific knowledge.

h) Section 43 of the Act on conservation of biological resources ex-situ provides for NEMA in consultation with lead agency to:

a. prescribe measures to ensure the conservation of biological resources ex situ especially for species threatened with extinction;

b. issue guidelines for the establishment and operation of germ plasm banks, botanical gardens, zoos, animal orphanages and any other facilities NEMA may consider necessary;

c. ensure that species threatened with extinction which are conserved ex situ are re-introduced into their native habitats and ecosystems where the threat to the species has been terminated and where a viable population of the threatened species has been achieved.

i) Section 44 on access to Genetic Resources of Uganda mandates NEMA, after consultation with the lead agency, to issue guidelines and prescribe measures for sustainable management and utilization of the genetic resources of Uganda for the benefit of the people of Uganda.

The Wildlife Act Cap, 1996 (Cap 200 of 2000)

The Act provides for sustainable management of wildlife, the consolidation of laws relating to wildlife management and establishes an institutional framework for wildlife conservation in Uganda. The Act under section 17 provides for procedure to be followed for declaration of Wildlife Protected Areas. The Act further defines Protected Area and Wildlife Management categories as National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Community Wildlife Management Areas.

The Act creates Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) as an institution mandated by the government to conserve and sustainably manage the wildlife and Protected Areas of Uganda in partnership with the neighboring communities and other stakeholders for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community. This mandate authorizes UWA to manage all wildlife in the country both inside and outside the protected areas (National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Community Wildlife Management Areas).

The functions of UWA includes sustainable management of wildlife conservation areas, developing and recommending policies on wildlife management, implementation of policies on wildlife, developing and implementing management plans for wildlife conservation areas, promoting the conservation of biological diversity ex-situ and promoting scientific research on wildlife.

The act further provides for involvement local people in management of Protected Areas through involvement, regulated resource access and revenue sharing programs among others. Under the Act, 20% of all Protected Area gate collections belong to the Local Governments of the Areas neighboring these Protected Areas.

The Act further provides for sustainable utilization of wildlife through various wildlife use rights regimes. The Act creates several offences and penalties relating to management of Protected Areas.

The National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003

The Act provide for the conservation, sustainable management and development of the forests for the benefit of the people of Uganda. The Act established the National Forestry Authority (NFA). The mandate of NFA is to develop and manage all central forest reserves, identify areas for declaration as central reserves, report on the state of forest reserves, establish procedures for sustainable utilization of Uganda forest resources, monitor industrial activity in forest reserves, undertake research, prepare and implement management plans , coordinate with NEMA and other lead agencies on the management of Uganda forest resources, and offer advice to the private sector on forestry matters. The objectives of the Act are to:

(i)Provide for the conservation, sustainable management and development of forests for the benefit of the people of Uganda;

(ii) Provide for the declaration of forest reserves for purposes of protection and production forests;

(iii) Consolidate the law relating to the forest sector and trade in forest produce;

(iv) Provide for sustainable use of forest resources and enhancement of productive capacity of forests;

(v) Provide for the promotion of tree planting;

(vi) Establish a framework for the forest sector â„¢s management and planning;

(vii) Establish the National Forestry Authority (NFA).

In general, this Act strongly supports measures that will promote the conservation of forest biological diversity, ecosystems and habitats.

The Land Act, 1998 (Cap 227 of 2000)

This Act guides all issues related to land management in Uganda. It provides for tenure, ownership and management of land in Uganda. The Act imposes a duty on land owners/ managers to manage the land in accordance with other legislation including the National Environment Act, the Forestry and Tree Planting Act and the Uganda Wildlife Act.

The Act provides for Government or Local Government to hold in trust for the people of Uganda and protect natural lakes, rivers, ground water, natural ponds, natural streams, wetlands, forest reserves, national parks and any other land to be reserved for ecological and touristic purposes for the common good of the citizens of Uganda.

The Local Government Act (1997)

The Act introduces a decentralized system of governance in Uganda. The Local Government structure is based on councils from the District Council as the highest administrative unit to the lower local council of LC III (Sub County) as the lowest. Below the LC III are LC II and LC I. These councils provide advice to Central Government on matters under their respective jurisdiction, relating to management of Protected Areas. Some Protected Areas like Local Forest Reserves and Community Wildlife Management Areas are under the direct control of Local Governments.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations (1998)

Under the National Environment Act, it is legally required that all development projects that are likely to cause significant impacts on the environment undergo an EIA. This is so that adverse impacts can be foreseen and eliminated or mitigated. It is also a requirement that EIA be conducted by an inter-disciplinary team using a participatory approach, which involves consultations with local communities and other stakeholders. Some projects may be subjected to public hearings depending on their level of controversy. The projects are first screened to determine the level of EIA required.

The National Environment (Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing) Regulations, 2005

The regulations are the most comprehensive instrument in as far as fulfilling the requirements as set in the CBD and the Bonn guidelines as well, as addressing key access to genetic resources and benefit sharing issues in Uganda. The regulations were developed under the National Environment Act to:

(a) Prescribe the procedures for access to genetic resources for scientific research, commercial purposes, bio-prospecting, conservation or industrial application.

(b) Provide for the sharing of benefits derived from genetic resources; and to

(c) Promote the sustainable management and utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation of biological resources of Uganda.

Among the key provisions, the regulations provide for:

(i) Establishing of institutional arrangements.

(ii) Management of genetic resources.

(iii) Material transfer agreements and benefit sharing.

(iv) Access to information.

The regulations apply to access to genetic resources or parts of genetic resources, whether naturally occurring or naturalised, including genetic resources bred for or intended for commercial purposes within Uganda or for export, whether in in-situ conditions or ex-situ conditions. The regulations however do not apply to:

(a) exchange of genetic resources amongst local communities for their own consumption or purely for food or other consumptive purposes as prescribed by the relevant laws;

(b) the transiting of genetic resources through Uganda from other countries;

(c) access to genetic resources derived from plant breeders as defined by laws relating to plant breeding and plant variety protections;

(d) human genetic resources; approved research activities intended for educational purposes by Ugandan institutions recognised by the competent authority, and which do not result in access to genetic resources for commercial purposes or exports to other countries.

The regulations provide for a license to be granted for the use or export of genetic resources under any other law provided it takes into full consideration the provisions of these regulations.

The National Environment (Wetlands, River Banks and Lake Shores Management) Regulations, 2000

The objectives of the Regulations are to -

(a) Provide for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources in Uganda;

(b) Give effect to clause 2 of article 237 of the Constitution of Uganda;

(c) Ensure water catchment conservation and flood control;

(d) Ensure the sustainable use of wetlands for ecological and tourist purposes for the common good of all citizens;

(e) Ensure that wetlands are protected as habitats for species of fauna and flora;

(f) Provide for the regulated public use and enjoyment of wetlands;

(g) Enhance research and research related activities; and

(h) Minimize and control pollution.

The principles for wetland management under these Regulations are as follows:

(a) Wetland resources shall be utilised in a sustainable manner compatible with the continued presence of wetlands and their hydrological functions and service;

(b) Environmental impact assessment as required under the statute is mandatory for all activities in wetlands likely to have an adverse impact on the wetland;

(c) special measures are essential for the protection of wetlands of international, national and local importance as ecological systems and habitat for fauna and flora species, and for cultural and aesthetic purposes, as well as for their hydrological functions; and

(d) Wise use of wetlands shall be interpreted into the national and local approaches to the management of their resources through awareness campaigns and dissemination of information.

Implementation of these Regulations and the Regulations on Hilly and Mountainous Areas are on-going through an ecosystems approach with the local communities as well as enforcement/restoration activities. Under the regulations NEMA is responsible responsible for development of guidelines, policies and awareness while Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST) is the Competent Authority.


The National Environment (Hilly and Mountainous Area Management) Regulations, 2000

The objectives of the Regulations are:-

(a) to facilitate the sustainable utilization and conservation of resources in mountainous and hilly areas by and for the benefit of the people and communities living in the area;

(b) to promote the integration of wise use of resources in mountainous and hilly areas into the local and national management of natural resources for socio-economic development; and

(c) to regulate and promote efficient and sustainable use of resources in mountainous and hilly areas so that the functions and values derived there from are maintained for the present and future generations.

A person who introduces into any mountainous and hilly area an alien or exotic plant or animal contrary to the provisions of the statute and the Plant Protection Act, commits an offense in the terms prescribed by those Statutes.

Restrictions on the use of mountainous and hilly areas;

A person who desires to, graze livestock, establish a camping or other recreational facility for tourist purposes, plant or cultivate crops or carry out any development activity requiring an environmental impact assessment in a mountainous and hilly area where the slope (gradient) exceeds 15% shall make an application to the local environment committee of the lower local governments.

The local environment committee may after considering the application and where it deems it necessary after affording the applicant an opportunity to be heard grant a permit. Where the local environment committee deems it necessary, it may request the opinion of a local agricultural extension officer or persons who may be affected by an activity before granting a permit.

A person permitted to carry out an activity in a mountainous and hilly area shall take such precautions as may be directed by the local environment committee or environment officer. A person who carries out any activity regulated contrary to the provisions of these Regulations commits an offence.

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