Innovative Participation in Conservation and Poverty Alleviation (IPaCoPA)

Tree Uganda Academy
Published: 20 September 2021
Last edited: 20 September 2021
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IPaCoPA is an inclusive regeneration entrepreneurial design sparked in 2016 to aid and philanthropy community led conservation and poverty alleviation. In 2018 it was recognised as one of the best Panorama Solutions for a Healthy Planet.

Over time, this solution has been improved by consolidating best practices in Agriculture, Conservation and Ecotourism to address the increasing need for nature conservation and livelihood development. 

IPaCoPA solution is being applied through formation of grassroots community led conservation groups and clubs and capacity building members to implement the strategic directions of the organisation approved by the Board. We integrate the Village Savings and Loan Scheme and invite external partners to enable community’s easy access to finance and resources to invest in conservation and livelihood initiatives embedded in the IPaCoPA solution whilst sparingly utilising the natural resources which allows space for threatened species to thrive.


    East and South Africa
    Scale of implementation
    Forest ecosystems
    Freshwater ecosystems
    Grassland ecosystems
    Tropical deciduous forest
    Tropical evergreen forest
    Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
    Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
    Access and benefit sharing
    Biodiversity mainstreaming
    Connectivity / transboundary conservation
    Ecosystem services
    Erosion prevention
    Fire management
    Food security
    Forest Management
    Gender mainstreaming
    Habitat fragmentation and degradation
    Health and human wellbeing
    Indigenous people
    Land management
    Legal & policy frameworks
    Local actors
    Outreach & communications
    Peace and human security
    Poaching and environmental crime
    Protected and conserved areas governance
    Protected and conserved areas management planning
    Renewable energies
    Science and research
    Species management
    Standards/ certification
    Sustainable financing
    Sustainable livelihoods
    Terrestrial spatial planning
    Traditional knowledge
    Waste management
    Watershed management
    Increasing temperatures
    Land and Forest degradation
    Loss of Biodiversity
    Shift of seasons
    Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
    Ecosystem loss
    Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
    Inefficient management of financial resources
    Lack of access to long-term funding
    Lack of alternative income opportunities
    Physical resource extraction
    Changes in socio-cultural context
    Lack of technical capacity
    Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
    Poor monitoring and enforcement
    Poor governance and participation
    Social conflict and civil unrest
    Lack of food security
    Unemployment / poverty
    Sustainable development goals
    SDG 1 – No poverty
    SDG 2 – Zero hunger
    SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
    SDG 4 – Quality education
    SDG 5 – Gender equality
    SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
    SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
    SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
    SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
    SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
    SDG 13 – Climate action
    SDG 15 – Life on land
    SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
    SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
    Aichi targets
    Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
    Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
    Target 3: Incentives reformed
    Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
    Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
    Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
    Target 8: Pollution reduced
    Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
    Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
    Target 14: Ecosystem services
    Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
    Target 17: Biodiversity strategies and action plans
    Target 18: Traditional knowledge
    Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
    Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
    Sendai Framework
    Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
    Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030
    Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020
    Target 6: Enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030
    Business engagement approach
    Direct engagement with a company
    Direct engagement with associations
    Indirect through financial institutions
    Indirect through government
    Indirect through legal actors





    • Natural Resource depletion; being tackled through awareness creation and access to essential ecosystem services.
    • Limited conservation knowledge and skills; being tackled through trainings on sustainable management practices, basic wildlife use rights and conservation challenges.


    • Civil Rights and Racial Discrimination coupled with Climate injustices; being tackled through group formation to encourage cohesion, Collective visioning and joint decision making.
    • Climate change; being tackled through afforestation, Agroforestry and renewable energy.
    • Gender and other forms of inequalities; being tackled through group/club formation.
    • Degenerating African Cultural Heritage; being tackled through Traditional Music, Dance and Drama with meaningful contribution to nature conservation.   


    • Poverty and limited access to Financing; being tackled through commercial farming of chilli, Ecotourism, Village Savings and Loan Association Scheme and linkages with financial institutions.


    • Crop and animal farmers.
    • Youth and women.
    • Pupils and students.
    • Plant and animal diversity.
    • Government of Uganda.
    • Tourists and participating communities by embracing ecotourism as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

    How do the building blocks interact?

    The TUA Board mobilises resources and makes log term plans for the organisation that shape the course of action the Staff has to follow to achieve our mission "a Clean, health and well protected environment supporting a sustainable society and economy", which we cannot achieve alone. This calls for community participation in form of Tree Academy Groups and Clubs (TAGs & TACs).  

    The TAGs and TACs are grassroots innovation hubs, the channels of communication and distribution of our products and services to achieve our enormous mission. They play a pivotal role in amplifying awareness creation and advocacy for climate justice. To achieve the latter, requires finance which calls for the Village savings and Loan Scheme and the External partners.

    Access to finance is a vital component in the Conservation and Livelihood “equation”. Because most local community members lack prerequisites to secure soft loans from financial institutions, we integrate the VSLA Scheme to secure group guarantorship and enable members’ quick access to small and affordable loans to implement their ideas. Certainly we invite external partners to secure sustained funding, resources and other services to complete the IPaCoPA Cycle.


    • 71 conservation Groups and 25 Clubs formed with 2,227 members including 3 groups of reformed poachers championing conservation and climate justice.
    • 2,227 members trained on basic wildlife use rights and conservation challenges with 65% able to describe the characteristics of the parks and promote general awareness creation.
    • 2,227 people educated on sustainable management practices, renewable energy and their benefits, with 75% applying them.
    • 2,227 members trained on how to write a formal letter to the local authority and at least 70% can ably report on the status of the park through writing.   
    • Integration of the Village Savings and Loan Scheme with 995 people in 71 conservation Groups benefiting, enhanced with linkages to local financial institutions.
    • A total of 230,000 indigenous trees Planted.
    • Human-Wildlife Conflict reduced with introduction of Commercial farming of Chilli, with 500 households involved. 
    • Introduced Debates on relevant Environment and Climate Change topics in Schools where 1,023 youth students have participated.   
    • Promotion of Eco-tourism and Agro tourism enhanced with on-farm biodiversity conservation.
    • Organised and Implemented 5 Local Community Nature Walks.
    • Music, Dance and Drama competitions organised, where 11 groups and 5 Clubs excelled, awarded and recognised for exhibiting creative art relevant to nature conservation.


    Tree Uganda Academy

    You’ve likely heard about the growing list of wildlife species that are vulnerable, threatened, or critically endangered in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). Some species have even been defined as critically endangered in the past few decades, often due to overhunting, habitat loss, wild fires and Human-Wildlife conflicts.


    But while it’s true that we’re losing biodiversity, among wildlife the Tree Climbing Lions, their prey and Habitats faster than we can categorize them, there’s a parallel story unfolding among the plant and animal diversity in the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, with increasing innovation by Tree Uganda Academy to engage local communities in the protection and restoration of important grassland and open woodland habitat that the Tree Climbing Lions and other animal species rely upon.


    More than two decades ago, 90% of locals who entered the park entered with the intention of either poaching or encroaching on the resource. Conversely, the spark of the IPaCoPA solution in 2016 has seen us take huge strides to reverse the phenomena with increased numbers of informed conservationists including three (3) groups of reformed poachers empowered with alternative source of income through Commercial farming of Chilli, Ecotourism and the introduction of the Village savings and Loan Scheme.


    Our approach has acknowledged local communities and actually made them central to conservation, where today  2,227 people are directly engaged in conservation activities and in the collective management of the park. Rather than protecting people from nature, we  look for practical solutions that allow humans and other species to thrive together.


    Through the IPaCoPA innovation, more than 2,227 have been empowered and over 230,000 trees planted (including Fig Trees in Queen Elizabeth National Park) and we are working on a common goal to ensure the Climbing Lions of Ishasha Sector and other threatened species are moved from the critically endangered species list to the threatened list by 2025. 

    Contributed by

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    Mushana Ivan

    Other contributors

    Girl Power Foundation Uganda (GPFU)