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Biodiversity Policies


The earliest formalized management of Protected Areas dates back to 1898. However before this time, it was common practice for the Local Kings and Chiefs of the various Kingdoms and Chiefdoms in the area making up Uganda, to set aside areas for Protection of Wildlife. Such areas were used for hunting, an activity that was carried out mainly as a sport but also for provision of meat, clothing and medicine. These areas were managed according to customs and norms of the respective communities. In 1926, the first legislation on Wildlife Management was enacted by the colonial Government establishing the Game Department with several Game reserves, gazetted that year. The Game Department was responsible for regulation of utilization of and control of wild animals. Several amendments were made thereafter, a key one culminating into the Game (Preservation and Control) Act of 1964, which remained in force until 1995, before giving way to the Uganda Wildlife Act Cap 200 of 1996 under which all wildlife Protected Areas in Uganda are now established.

Parallel to the development of formal wildlife management in the country, the Forest management also developed starting around 1898 when the first Forest Policy was adopted in 1929 with the main emphasis being forests for protection of the environment. Several revisions to this policy were made over the years shifting emphasis from protection to income generation. The emphasis on protection of the environment was only recaptured by the revision of the policy in 1988. Several forest reserves are now gazetted as Protected Areas with the overall goal being protection of environment and sustainable development.
The 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as amended

The Constitution is the supreme legal framework the basis upon which Government Policies, Laws and Strategies are based. The National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy XIII and XXVII; And Article 237 of the 1995 Constitution clearly spells out obligations to Central and Local Governments to create and manage Protected Areas in trust for the people of Uganda. Objective XIII obligates the State to protect natural resources including land, water, wetlands, minerals, oil, fauna and flora on behalf of the people of Uganda while Objective XXVII on Environment provides that:

(a) The State shall promote sustainable development and public awareness of the need to manage land, air, water resources in a balanced and sustainable manner for the present and future generations;

(b) The utilization of natural resources of Uganda shall be managed in such a way as to meet the development and environmental needs of present and future generations of Ugandans and in particular, the State shall take possible measures to prevent or minimize damage and destruction to land, air and water resources resulting from pollution or other causes; and

(c) The State, including local government, shall;

(i) Create and develop parks, reserves and recreation areas and ensure the conservation of natural resources; and

(ii) Promote the rational use of natural resources so as to safeguard and protect the bio-diversity.

Article 237(2)(b) states that Government or Local Government as determined by Parliament by law shall hold in trust for the people, and protect Natural Lakes, Rivers, Wetlands, Forest Reserves, Game Reserves, and National Parks, and to reserve land for ecological and tourist purposes for the common good of all citizens. Indeed various laws have since been enacted to implement this constitutional provision.


Government has over time formulated various Policies to provide for establishment and or management of Protected Areas in Uganda, most relevant of which are discussed below;

The Uganda National Environment Management Policy (1994)

The National Environment Management Policy provides guiding principles for general environment management in Uganda. It is a framework policy broadly addressing management of all matters relating to environment and natural resources in Uganda. The goal of the policy is sustainable social and economic development which maintains or enhances environmental quality and resource productivity on a long term basis that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The policy seeks to conserve, preserve and restore ecosystems and maintain ecological processes and life support systems, especially conservation of national biodiversity. The Policy objective on biodiversity is to conserve and manage sustainably Uganda terrestrial and aquatic biological diversity in support of national and socio-economic development. It calls for development of strategies and actions plans for the conservation of biodiversity, management of biodiversity inside and outside Protected Areas, collaborative management of Protected areas, Cooperation in the management of shared biological resources as well as in-situ and ex-situ conservation.

The Uganda Wildlife Policy (1999)

This is a successor Policy to the Uganda Wildlife Policy of 1994. The goal of the policy is to conserve in perpetuity, the rich biological diversity and natural habitats of Uganda, in a manner that accommodates the development needs of the nation, and the well-being of its people and the global community, while its overall aim is to promote the long term conservation of the country wildlife and biodiversity in a cost effective manner which maximizes the benefit to the people of Uganda.

The Wildlife Policy provides a basis for Establishment and Management of all wildlife Protected Areas in Uganda and clearly spells out objectives, goals and permitted activities in the respective categories of wildlife Protected Areas. This Policy describes Wildlife Protected Areas as National Parks, Wildlife Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Community Wildlife Management Areas. The Policy provides for sustainable utilization and benefit sharing with the Local People.

Uganda Forestry Policy (2001)

The goal of the Forestry Policy is to ensure an integrated forest sector that achieves sustainable increases in the economic, social and environmental benefits from forests and trees by all the people of Uganda, especially the poor and vulnerable. The Forest Policy provides a basis for establishment of forest Protected Areas and describes forest Protected Areas as Central Forest Reserves, Local Forest Reserves and Community Forest Reserves.

The Policy also provides for biodiversity conservation in forest Protected Areas under Policy Statements number 7 and 8 which provides for

(a) Strengthening of implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);

(b) Promotion of rehabilitation of degraded forests in water catchment areas and bare hills through private, community and farm forestry initiatives;

(c) Develop accompanying regulations to the provisions of the National Environment Act relating to watershed management, soil conservation and the protection of riverbanks and lakeshores.

The Policy calls for forest sector development to safeguard Uganda forest biodiversity and environmental services through effective conservation strategies.

The National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetland Resources (1995)

This policy targets sustainable management of the biological and socio-economic values of wetlands. The Policy provides a framework for Wetland Management in Uganda. These wetlands are held in trust by Government on behalf of the people of Uganda. The Wetland Policy aims at curtailing the rampant loss of wetland resources and ensuring that benefits from wetlands are sustainably and equitably distributed to all people of Uganda. In this regard, the policy calls for

(a) No drainage of wetlands unless more important environmental management practices supersede;

(b) Sustainable use of wetlands to ensure that benefits of wetlands are maintained for the foreseeable future;

(c) Environmentally sound management of wetlands to ensure that other aspects of the environment are not adversely affected;

(d) Equitable distribution of wetland benefits; and

(e) The application of environment impact assessment procedure on all activities to be carried out in a wetland to ensure the wetland development is well planned and managed.

The National Tourism Policy (2003)

The National Tourism Policy provides for promotion of ecotourism in Uganda as opposed to mass tourism. The Policy advances the need to develop and market Protected Areas as centers of sustainable economic development through responsible tourism and related activities.

Tourism development is to provide a medium for poverty reduction both at local community and national levels thereby providing alternative livelihood sources which is a prerequisite for reducing pressure on protected Areas. The Policy provides a mechanism for sustainable use of genetic and cultural resources for economic development.

National Land Use Policy 2011

This Policy provides for sustainable use management in Uganda. The Policy recognizes conservation in general as a form of land use and calls for sustainable management of Protected Areas of Uganda.

Decentralization Policy, 1997

The Decentralization Policy provides the basis for devolving functions from central Government to lower level Governments called Local Governments. Local Governments being closer to Protected Areas than Central Governments makes them critical for mobilization of community support for Protected Areas. While Protected Areas remain a centralized function, Local Governments are envisaged under this Policy to play a fundamental collaborative role including management of some categories of Protected Areas like Local Forest Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Wildlife Management Areas and host wetlands.

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Kidepo critical Landscape

Kidepo critical Landscape

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have given financial support of USD$3.08m to the government of Uganda to fund the conservation of Kidepo Valley National Park. The conservation projects in the park will be implemented by National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority.


Support Center

National Environment Management Authority(NEMA)

NEMA House
Plot 17/19/21 Jinja Road
P.O. Box 22255


  • Tel: 256-414-251064
  • Fax: 256-414-257521
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