It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the ITFC Website. We will strive to bring you updated information about ITFC and its research activities within the Albertine rift region. The Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation (ITFC) is one of the 8 academic units of Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) that mainly carries out applied research and postgraduate training (see www.must.ac.ug). ITFC was established in August 1991 as a semi-autonomous postgraduate research Institute of MUST and is based in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at Ruhija in Rubanda district. The past two decades, ITFC’s research staff and partners have published over 200 publications in international journals such as Biotropica, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Oryx and African Journal of Ecology. This has contributed immensely to MUST’s top rankings by the Africa’s Universities Webometrics ranking system.
Over the years, ITFC research projects / activities have been facilitated and funded by a number of donors and partners that include Uganda wildlife Authority (UWA), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Conservation International (CI), the Dutch Embassy, MacArthur Foundation (MAF), Buffet Foundation (BF), British Ecological Society (BES), USAID, International Foundation for Science (IFS), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Greater Virunga Transboundary Core Secretariat (GVTC), International Gorilla Conservation Project (IGCP), Marx’s Plank’s Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVAN) etc. MUST funding to ITFC research activities equate to about 12% of its annual budget. Much of the funding to ITFC comes from national and international donors. Funds from donors to ITFC for ecological and sociological research have over the past 6 years been declining. As such ITFC has been strategizing on better ways to generate income from its facilities and and align itself to activities that attract donor funding.
In the recent past (starting 2015) and as part of fundraising drive by ITFC and MUST, ITFC acquired funds from the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the private sector foundation to establish income generating projects in Bwindi for a sustainable funding to ITFC. These funds were used to establish income-generating projects for future ITFC funding. These projects are:
- Buhoma Forest Gorilla Trekking camp (construction of the bandas was completed in June 2018 and the facility is predicted to generate an annual income of about 500,000 USD to ITFC
- Buhoma community campsite and lodge that rents MUST land located in Buhoma. The facility is predicted to generate an annual income of 10 million UGX to ITFC.
- Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in planting tea on part of Buhoma land. The activity has not yet began although the process of procuring a private partner is already ongoing through the PPP guidelines. This activity is predicted to bring to ITFC an annual income of 45,000 USD.
- Ethnobotanical garden at Ruhija for breeding indigenous tree seedlings. The activity began in 2017 and is already functional and selling tree seedling to the local communities and developmental partners such as the Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust. We we expect to generate an annual income of 5 million UGX in this activity.
ITFC has furthermore realigned its research priorities (in the new strategic plan) to suit international donor requirements. We hope to attract more donor funds as a result. This new ITFC website redesigning is one such strategy of popularizing ITFC both nationally and internationally. We hope you enjoy scrolling through and reading our research activities. Please let us know of any improvements we should make as you read through our research activities. Thanks a lot for getting time to check out our website.
Assoc. Prof. Robert Bitariho (PhD),