Our community-centred conservation projects seek to increase rural populations' access to sustainable livelihood opportunities through community development, forestry and agriculture.
Community development activities focus on improving the standard of living while promoting reforestation, curbing soil erosion, and delivering conservation education to local populations. Women’s development is a special focus. We organize micro-credit programmes that allow villagers – especially women – to obtain capital for small business ventures by pooling their own money seeded by JGI funds.
In addition, JGI promotes the use of fuel-efficient stoves, and partners with communities on infrastructure projects such as the construction and renovation of schools and dispensaries. Furthermore, we assist community leaders in their efforts to identify and prioritize community needs, and provides support for targeted economic development projects.
To help preserve the natural resource base for future generations, and enable today’s farmers to live from the land, JGI promotes rural production systems that follow sustainability principles. Our agriculture projects focus on establishing demonstration plots and on training farmers and peer educators in agro-forestry and soil erosion control measures. We provide information on land-use planning, contour farming with vetiver grasses, and the use of organic manure and pesticides. Improved production and market access for perennial cash crops like coffee and oil palm are promoted as well as improved techniques for production of subsistence and staple foods.
One of the Jane Goodall Institute’s primary strategies for community-centred conservation is to support the development of alternative livelihood activities for populations around threatened areas. These groups are typically engaged in subsistence agriculture using traditional techniques that lead to erosion, deforestation and the general degradation of the landscape. Given the natural beauty of these landscapes, and the presence of endangered and fascinating species like great apes, ecotourism activities have enormous potential to create new income-generating opportunities for rural populations while supporting conservation goals.
JGI’s flagship community-centred conservation initiative, the Greater Gombe Ecosystem Program, has supported the creation of a regional community-based organization involving village representatives and local and regional government officials to act as an umbrella for coordinating ecotourism activities. In Uganda, JGI has been deeply involved in fostering the development of a number of successful ecotourism initiatives, including the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, habituated chimpanzee viewing sites at Kibale and Kaniyo-Pabidi, and education centres, visitor lodges and cafes in key forest locations. These initiatives have significantly increased local incomes while educating both local residents and visitors about vital conservation issues.