Kikonda Central Forest Reserve is managed under a concession arrangement by Global Woods AG (GW), a forestry company whose mission is to develop high-quality timber plantations in balance with social and ecological demands. The company is guided by the Principles and Criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which emphasize environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests.

Global Woods AG boasts of its FSC certification status achieved in 2012, with 10,298 hectares of FSC certified area to-date, of which 8522.03ha are under plantation dominated by species such as Pinus Caribaea, Pinus Oocarpa, Pinus taeda, Eucalyptus grandis, Maesopsis eminii, Araucaria cunninghamii, Tectona grandis and Melia volkensii among others, while 1776.8 hectares are under natural forest.

The company set aside about 20% of its concession area for biodiversity conservation, arranged as access corridors with interconnectivity for free movement of animal species. GW goes ahead to ensure protection of its certified area from illegal activities mainly illegal logging and poaching, through sensitization of the surrounding communities about environmental conservation reinforced by forest patrols carried out by forest security guards. Besides, GW promotes solid and sustained community engagement through environmental education, support to community forestry and promotion of sustainable livelihoods in the adjacent communities, resulting into reduced human pressure on the forest for farmland and other traditional land use activities.

These meticulous conservation efforts have created a safe haven for birds and mammals to thrive. With a steady recovery of biodiversity, the forest is teeming with a species list of birds at 287 (27% of Uganda’s total) and 30 mammal species (9% of Uganda’s total), compared to only 88 birds species, 16 mammal species and 119 plant species recorded as indicator species during Global Woods AG’s first biodiversity survey conducted in 2013. The most prominent animal species are Black and white Colobus Monkey, Bush Buck and Bush Duiker. Endangered animal species that include the African Golden cat (Profelis aurata), Leopards (Panthera pardus) and Pangolins (Manis Sp.) also exist. Birds include; Broad billed Roller, Western Nicator, Eastern Grey Plantain- eater, Grey Crowned Crane, Bateleur, Martial Eagle, Grey parrot, Montagu’s Harrier, Brown Snake Eagle. These exist harmoniously in both the natural forest and the plantation area, periodically monitored (bi-annually for birds and mammals and every three years for plants) by the GW staff in partnership with academic and research institutions.

Community participation and benefits
The deliberate and sustainable environmental conservation and community engagement program instituted by Global Woods AG for the adjacent communities has born fruits. Close to 8,400 community members including women, men, youths and students have benefited from the environment management trainings, formed associations and farmer led groups such as Nankende community association (NACOA) which is one of the community groups that entered into a forest guarding protocol with GW to protect the areas of the forest reserve close to their villages from all forms of illegal activities. The associations have also established woodlots on their private land with technical support and tree seedlings supplied by GW, thus, contributing to a steady recovery of formerly degraded areas and the entire ecosystem. Over 500 farmers in the adjacent communities received more than 400,000 tree seedlings turning them into tree owners. Today, more farmers in the adjacent villages practice farmer-managed natural regeneration (more vivid among cattle keepers) on their farms than ever before.

There has also been great improvement in relations between the communities and GW, creating a stable working environment for the company. As a result, there is increased positive attitude and action among local communities to participate in nature conservation. They periodically join in data collection with GW during the regular biodiversity monitoring assessments. Under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), GW pays salaries and wages to 300-600 people who work with the company and her contactors, thus, supporting over 2000 dependants.

Added value through partnerships and collaboration
GW works with experts from Nature Uganda ( and Makerere University in conducting biodiversity assessments and documenting the findings. The Saw Log Production Grant scheme (SPGS) and IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) support GW with grants to promote biodiversity conservation. GW also collaborates with other forest companies in Uganda to share their knowledge and science-based experiences in conservation. More so, the company enjoys stable partnerships with the government institutions including the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and the local leaders at the district levels e.g. Kyankwanzi district.

Challenges and threats
Some incidences of illegal tree harvesting (for charcoal, timber and small poles) still occur in the conservation zones of the Kikonda Central Forest Reserve. Other threats include excessive grazing, poaching and clearance of land for agriculture.
The steady increase in the numbers of mammals in forest has begun to pose a challenge to the surrounding communities as they lead to human –wildlife conflicts through crop and domestic animal raids occasioning severe damage.
To address these challenges, GW has initiated a partnership with Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA), a body in charge of managing all wildlife in Uganda (UWA) to manage the human-wildlife conflicts. GW aggressively conducts environmental awareness for surrounding communities and is implementing a livelihood support programme for the adjacent communities aimed at improving agricultural yields on farmers’ private land to reduce pressure on the forest reserve.

Kikonda Central Forest Reserve is increasingly becoming an ideal destination for avi-tourism and game viewing as well as a research spot in botany and zoology. ‘Going forward, Global woods AG, aims to protect and maintain the current levels of biodiversity and where possible, further increase it. Additional efforts will be vested in protecting the animal and bird species on community farmlands through establishing out grower schemes that integrate native trees. More importantly, continue to train communities in crop growing and cattle rearing techniques that are ecologically sound’ said John Mary Kisembo, the Sustainability Program Manager at GW.