By Tony Achidria

In a collaborative effort with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has conducted a comprehensive training program for its environment assessment officers, inspectors, and auditors. This initiative aimed to equip participants with the necessary skills to effectively apply the mitigation hierarchy, particularly in the context of environmental and social impact assessments.

The overarching objective of this training was to enhance the capacity of NEMA officers to assess potential impacts and ensure proper planning and management of biodiversity in the face of ongoing development projects.

Addressing the participants, Ms. Leila Akello Gonasa, NEMA’s Senior Manager for Environmental Compliance, emphasized the practical application of the concepts learned during the course in their daily work. She further emphasized the critical role of the mitigation hierarchy in guiding the design and implementation of biodiversity offsets.

WCS Executive Director, Dr. Simon Nampindo, underscored the organization’s commitment to science-based conservation. He highlighted WCS’s mission to conserve wildlife and ecosystems through the application of innovative scientific solutions. Dr. Nampindo emphasized the global impact of WCS in saving wildlife and preserving natural habitats through science, conservation initiatives, education, and fostering a deeper appreciation for nature.

The training comprised three key modules: Introduction to the Mitigation Hierarchy, Designing and Implementing Biodiversity Offsets, and a Field Case Study focusing on the Kalagala-Itanda Special Conservation Area. These modules provided participants with a comprehensive understanding of the mitigation hierarchy and its practical application in real-world scenarios.

Noteworthy outcomes emerged from the training. Firstly, participants gained a heightened awareness of the various types of impacts associated with development projects. They also acquired a nuanced understanding of how different stages of the mitigation hierarchy can be strategically applied to yield optimal biodiversity outcomes within the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process.

Secondly, the training deepened participants’ understanding of the intricacies involved in designing and implementing offsets. This encompassed clarifying the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders, determining the location and type of offset required, and addressing crucial considerations such as timing and financial aspects.

The culmination of the training was a field case study centered on the Kalagala-Itanda Special Conservation Area. This practical experience provided participants with valuable insights into the tangible challenges associated with biodiversity conservation and offset design.

The collaboration between NEMA and WCS in conducting this training signifies a significant step forward in fostering sustainable development practices. By empowering environmental assessment professionals with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the mitigation hierarchy effectively, the initiative contributes to the broader goal of harmonizing development and biodiversity conservation. As NEMA participants return to their day-to-day roles, the ripple effects of this training are expected to manifest in more informed decision-making and a heightened commitment to preserving our natural heritage.

This article is also featured here on the NEMA website.