TotalEnergies EP Uganda has today (Wednesday) unveiled a Tilenga biodiversity programme aimed at protecting and conserving biodiversity in and around the Tilenga project area in Buliisa and Nwoya Districts in Bunyoro and West Nile regions respectively.
The Biodiversity Action Programme is intended to offset some of the negative residual effects of the oil production in the Albertine grabben.
Ms Pauline Macronald, the Programme Head of Environment, said the oil company will be reducing human pressures and strengthen the ecological resilience of the Murchison Falls protected area through enhanced park protection and community based management like supporting alternative livelihoods.
She said the programme will involve designing, implementation and monitoring a range of interventions in partnership with authorities, conservation actors present in the landscape and community based organisations including the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).
The company will also support implementation of conservation and restoration measures for forests and their connectivity targeting protection of 10,000 hectares of natural forest threatened with deforestation and restoration of 1,000 hectares of tropical forest.
Ms Macronald added that the company will also work with host communities to manage and restore wetlands along the southern bank of Lake Albert (Mwitanzige) through community based management initiatives.
Speaking during the launch, Mr Philippe Groueix, the General Manager TotalEnergies EP Uganda, said this is a long term project that will last the entire lifetime of oil production activities in the Albertine grabben.
“As TotalEnergies, we believe that the biodiversity sector is important for Uganda for the future. There is legitimate fear that our activities in the oil sector will have an impact on biodiversity and we are here to transform that fear and demonstrate it is an opportunity we can use to preserve nature. We will positively contribute by making sure nature will be in a better situation compared to what it was before the oil project,” said Mr Groueix.
Adding: “We are mindful of the sensitive context within which we are undertaking our activities. We have, thus, made a commitment to ensure that we implement action plans designed to produce net positive impact on biodiversity. The biodiversity programme will ensure a sustainable approach in working with community towards protecting and conserving the ecologically rich area in and around the Murchison Falls Conservation Area.”
The NEMA Executive Director, Mr Barirega Akankwasah, said the project is “Uganda’s real pilot diversity offset, a litmus test for implementation of biodiversity offset programmes.”
PAU’s Director Health, Safety and Environment, Dr Joseph Kobusheshe, said the programme will address some of the concerns raised by environmentalists adding that some of which are pushing wrong agenda.
“I appeal to the media not to be used by such people. We need to stand up against this negative publicity,” he said.
TotalEnergies EP Uganda recently embarked on community based forest conservation and restoration initiatives such as Grow A Tree Everywhere (GATE) aimed at planting 100,000 trees in the Tilenga areas of Buliisa and Nwoya districts.