Ruhweza, Alice (NEMA-UGANDA, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kampala, UGANDA; Phone: +25631271634; Fax: +25631271635; Email:


Mainstreaming Payments/Incentives for Ecosystem Services in Regional and National Planning/Policy Dimensions




Over the past several centuries, food and fiber production—both produced by agriculture (domesticated crops, livestock, trees and fish) and harvested from natural systems (forests, grasslands, and fisheries)--has come to be the dominant influence on rural habitats outside the arctic, boreal, high mountain and desert ecoregions.  Unfortunately, most food production systems have had highly negative impacts on wild plant and animal biodiversity (both directly and through loss of habitat), and on ecosystem services critical to human well-being, such as regular water supply and quality, control of pests and diseases, pollination of useful plants, and sequestration and storage of carbon. These losses have direct and indirect economic impacts.


In Uganda and other parts of Africa, diverse land use systems have been developed by farmers and scientists that increase agricultural productivity, while also enhancing biodiversity of ecosystem services, and benefiting farmers economically, for example:- 

No Tillage/Zero Tillage - which leads to prevention of soil erosion and maintenance of soil health;

Integrated Agriculture whereby land is used to rear animals and crops. Cow dung is used to enrich the soil.;

Agro forestry whereby a number of farmers are planting trees with their crops which also leads to soil and water conservation;

Management of soil erosion in the bare hills – through tree planting, etc;

Small scale irrigation to mitigate effects of drought- high value crops horticulture; 

Rain water harvesting to increase nutrients recycling and improved soil health; 

Upland Rice has been promoted extensively to mitigate the destruction of wetlands.; and

Trees for Global Benefits - The Environmental conservation trust of Uganda has been working with a number of partners and District local government have implemented a pilot carbon trading scheme that works with small scale holder farmers. The project promotes tree planting activities under different tree growing configurations – woodlots, agro forestry, boundary planting while at the same time promoting income generating activities like beekeeping and goat rearing.  Emphasis has been placed more on indigenous tree species as a way of restoring on farm tree diversity.


However, most of the negative environmental “externalities” resulting from conventional agriculture are not internalized as business costs, and there is little financial reward to the farmer for producing positive environmental externalities, especially when ecosystem-damaging systems are heavily subsidized by governments. While improved science and technology will play a critical role in generating lower-cost systems that also benefit the environment, radical changes are also needed in financial incentives. Much innovative work is already underway to create such incentives, e.g. Markets for “green” products, using a variety of certification systems (certified organic; certified biodiversity-friendly, Forest Stewardship Certification, etc.); Agro ecotourism that attracts tourists to farms or farming regions that are also rich in wild biodiversity; Tax systems that reward farmers and ranchers for maintaining biodiversity or good watershed features; Payments to farmers to maintain protected areas for important species or ecosystem functions; Payments to farmers for managing their farms in ways that conserve important species or ecosystem functions; e.g. carbon sequestration; and Payments to farmers or forest owners for bioprospecting rights.


This paper will look at some of the initiatives underway in Uganda and explore the potential to enhance them into full-scale markets for ecosystem services.