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Help to conserve the Shoebill and other endangered birds by protecting their habitat.

Help to conserve the Shoebill and other endangered birds by protecting their habitat.

Please thank you for your interest in promoting sustainable and responsible tourism.  My name is David; am an environmentalist and social entrepreneur.  Am the main promoter of Nature Smart Expeditions, a social enterprise aimed at adding value to tourism in Uganda and Africa in general while upholding the environmental sustainability of natural resources that attract tourists in the first place, by providing simple innovative ways through which tourists can contribute to conservation while at the same time enriching their adventure.

Mabamba Bay Wetland System is a designated Ramsar site located in Wakiso District, 2,424 ha; 00°07'N 032°21'E.  It is an extensive marsh stretching through a narrow and long bay fringed with papyrus towards the main body of Lake Victoria - the only swamp close to Kampala (Uganda’s capital) where one can easily find the globally-threatened Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex).

When Mabamba was gazetted as a Ramsar site in year 2006, the eco-system was under serious threat from human extractive activities that include sand mining; hunting that involve burning; poaching on birds, eggs and animals, especially sitatunga; and, unsustainable wetland agriculture and overall negative attitude towards ecosystem conservation by neighboring communities which exacerbated the above mentioned problems.  Previous interventions implemented by Nature Palace Foundation and other partners have resulted in a more positive attitude by community members that have resulted into reduction in extractive activities by community members that included poaching, burning, and wetland agriculture.  However, extractive activities by actors outside the community have increased in scale due to advancement in technology used.    For instance sand mining using excavators is resulting into creation of very deep artificial ponds of over 20 metres in areas that were previously fish breeding grounds.  Such ponds are a big threat to the ecological balance of the ecosystem, a community hazard and have resulted into death of animals and people.  Yet community members have no authority to stop such degradation since the private developers get concessions at District level, above community structures authority.  Similarly deforestation of the catchment using power sows is contributing to increased sediment loading and he receding of wetland.  These trends are jeopardizing successes registered by initiatives that have been implemented at Mabamba in the past.

For over ten years I have worked in projects promoting nature conservation.  The last two projects were focusing on eco-tourism, which helped me to appreciate the potential of tourism in promoting Nature Conservation.  With this inspiration, I initiated NatureSmart Expeditions, which in a nutshell, promotes sustainable and responsible tourism that maximizes benefits to Nature, Host Communities and visitors. 

How we maximize benefits to Nature

NatureSmart Expeditions employs three key actions maximize benefits to Nature

  1. Tourism Advocacy

It so happens that that leaders in Africa listen much more to visitors than to domestic advocates, especially tourist because of the economic importance of the tourism industry,.  We have designed a simple method through which willing tourists can add a voice advocating for Nature Conservation.  Using short written or oral video messages from tourists, we aim to influence policy makers and leaders at all levels to ensure protection of key Natural Resources that are not only key to the feature of tourism but are also very important for local climate modulation.  The written messages and pictures (for those who wish) are scanned in their original full-color form and arranged into a colorful booklet.  The videos footages are similarly arranged into short videos.  Both the booklet and videos are shared with policy makers and leaders at all levels. 

  1. Carbon Neutralization

This is another package through which willing tourists physically or otherwise support local environmental projects that neutralize their carbon footprints. 

Working with local Conservation Organizations, Nature Palace Foundation and Botanic Garden, we have identified two projects in this endeavor:

  1. Tree planting project that will restore at least 100 hectares of degraded forests in the first three years;
  2. Renewable Energy project involving promoting improved energy-saving cook stoves and fuel briquettes made from recycling biomass waste. Our target is to see at least 1,000 households switching to improved energy-saving stoves each year. 
  • Volunteer Tourists Placements

We arrange voluntourism placements and attach them to projects that conserve the environment and promote sustainable tourism.  We also ensure they enjoy the adventure by incorporating subsidized expeditions through our partners.

  1. Young Nature Lovers Program for Domestic tourism promotion

In order to inculcate a sense of loving nature among young children and also develop domestic tourism, we collaborate with school and organize Nature Expeditions for young people.  This is will result into adults that love and care for nature but also promote domestic tourism.

How Host Community members will benefit

  1. Home-stays: This is an arrangement where community members host tourists in their homes. It is a mutual benefit arrangement where the visitor benefits by saving on money but also in connecting with local community members, and the host family benefits by earning an income and also getting new friends.
  2. Micro-delivery: Here a visitor connects with a community member before the trip. A community member identifies a small item which a visitor can bring for them.  On arrival a visitor is reimbursed the money or given a service in return e.g. accommodation in a ‘home stay’  The community members’ messages are posted on the website and visitors who get interested are marched and linked to communicate directly before the trip.
  3. Environmental Projects: Community members will benefit from Community Forests and Improved Energy-Saving Stoves first from environmental benefits but also from other associated benefits like savings on cooking energy and improved health. 

How the Social Enterprise will benefit

As a social enterprise, the primary benefits are environmental and social benefits accruing from the packages.  However, the enterprise will also get some monetary benefits as service fees.  The enterprise will also integrate eco-cottages which will generate income.

What will the raised Funds be used for?

USD 3000.00 will be used to develop and promote an interactive on-line platform to recruit participants in this campaign to protect the shoebill and other endangered species.  USD 2000.00 will be used to document and develop videos and colored booklets that will be used in the campaign. 

By supporting this campaign, you will help to make a better world by supporting sustainable and responsible tourism and protecting important Natural Resources that would otherwise be lost.