Kampala (March 22, 2017) – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has launched the Uganda Biodiversity Fund with support from USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) to help generate the resources needed to conserve Uganda’s wildlife and natural heritage.

The Uganda Biodiversity Fund is a product of the USAID/Uganda Biodiversity Trust Fund Activity implemented by WCS under the USAID Leader with Associates Award for Sustainable Conservation Approaches in Priority Ecosystems (SCAPES).

The Uganda Biodiversity Fund will mobilize, manage, and channel financing in the form of grants and other financial support to institutions that are involved in implementation of work to protect key populations of elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, and other species. The fund will also help to support world-famous protected areas such as Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, and provide investments and financial support to protect ecosystems of importance for the economic livelihoods of communities throughout Uganda.

The Uganda Biodiversity Fund launched on March 1st was attended by a number of government representatives and led by The Guest of Honour, Hon. Sam Cheptoris, Uganda’s Minister of Water and Environment, who represented the Prime Minister of Uganda. Other attendants included Ambassador Deborah R. Malac, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, as well as other development partners and diplomats. Representatives from other Non-Governmental Organizations and institutions of higher learning also participated in the event attended by over 200 people.

The Uganda Biodiversity Fund establishes a funding mechanism for long-term investments for donors from the government, development partners, and the private sector to help conserve biodiversity in Uganda. This conservation trust fund will also provide an avenue through which local organizations can access resources to promote and sustain their conservation efforts.

“As we launch this Biodiversity Fund today, let us be mindful of the intended benefits and the fact that these benefits should not only support the present generations but retain the capacity to support future generations,” said Hon. Cheptoris.

The fund is being launched as the government of Uganda is searching for solutions to address a financing gap for biodiversity conservation, estimated to be $455 million annually. The willingness and sustained commitment of the development partners, private sector, government, NGOs, civil society organizations, and academics to conserve biodiversity was the key motivation for establishing this conservation trust fund.

“From our feasibility assessment coupled with consultations with key stakeholders and potentials donors, we’re confident that the Uganda Biodiversity Fund will help generate an additional $50 to $100 million in the next five to 10 years,” said Dr. Simon Nampindo, Country Director for WCS’s Uganda Program.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Government, through USAID, has made the first financial commitment to the Uganda Biodiversity Fund,” said Ambassador Malac.In demonstrating our confidence in this new institution, we are providing a seed grant of $100,000 to support innovative approaches to conservation and to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the Albertine Rift region.”

This is in addition to USAID funds that will support the operationalization and administrative functioning of this new institution during the first two years of its establishment.  In total, USAID has invested $2.5 million in the process of developing and launching the Uganda Biodiversity Fund.

Contributions to the fund can also be made by members of the private sector, foundations, and individuals. WCS thanks the Minister of Water and Environment, who made the first individual contribution of $1,400 to the fund.

“The Uganda Biodiversity Fund will help conservationists protect Uganda’s irreplaceable wildlife and wild lands with additional funding and a network of support from the international community,” said Dr. Timothy Tear, Executive Director for WCS’s Africa Program.

The Uganda Biodiversity Fund is managed by an independent and rigorously selected board of trustees and is built on internationally accepted standards of best practices for governance and management of conservation trust funds. WCS acknowledges support from the Government of Uganda and all stakeholders that have contributed to the establishment of this conservation trust fund.