In the history of conservation work around the world, many terms and strategies have been used to identify areas and species of importance. KBAs refer to sites of global importance for the persistence of biodiversity because they hold significant numbers of one or more species of conservation concern, according to IUCN’s global standard for identification of KBAs , 2016. Uganda Biodiversity Fund is committed to focusing on protecting Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) as our priority areas for conservation.
IUCN (2016) gives five ways of assessing whether a site is a KBA:
A total of 36 terrestrial / wetland KBA sites and nine freshwater sites were identified for Uganda, constituting the areas which UBF will prioritise for biodiversity conservation program development.
So, why should we protect KBAs?
According to the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Uganda (2015 – 2025), services and products provided by ecosystems and species per year to Uganda’s economy constitute billions of shillings. Ecosystems provide many essential services such as provision of clean water and air, prevention of soil erosion, pollination of crops, provision of medicinal plants, nutrient cycling, provision of food and shelter and meeting of spiritual, cultural, aesthetic and recreational needs. The country’s economy is heavily dependent on biodiversity including fisheries, tourism, livestock, commercial and subsistence use of medicinal plants, among others. The continued loss and degradation of Uganda’s biodiversity therefore present a serious challenge to society, and the national economy generally.
In addition to direct gains in government revenues, biodiversity resources also support some of the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of Uganda’s population. The diversity of resources provides them with choice and fall back in times of drought, unemployment or other times of stress.
There is limited data on biodiversity valuation in Uganda, but past estimates have put gross economic output attributable to biological resource use in the fisheries, forestry, tourism, agriculture and energy sectors at US$ 546.6 million a year and indirect value associated with ecosystem services and functions at over US$ 200 million annually (Emerton and Muramira, 1999).