E Africa Bird Friendly Certification Initiative

The Bird Friendly Certification initiative E. Africa has been started here at the Rwenzori Sustainable Trade Centre (RSTC), Uganda to look at the feasibility of attaining Bird Friendly Certification for local, cooperative-grown coffee against criteria set by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre (SMBC). For Cocoa there isn’t yet an official Bird Friendly Certification standard however the SMBC are currently working on one. Our aim is to also attain Bird Friendly Certification for Cocoa once criteria are in place. Our chosen local cooperatives are located within the Bundibugyo region the foothills and mountains which lead to the Semeliki National Park run by UWA and visited by numerous tour groups from its stunning scenery and wealth of bird species and other wildlife.

The SMBC Bird Friendly Certificate is the ‘Gold Standard’ of scientifically tested, rigorous ecologically-friendly agricultural criteria seen by Ornithologists and other ecologists to enhance bird populations. It achieves environmental protection through planting and maintaining tree canopy, including native and regenerative species, thus enhancing wildlife populations whilst also being said to bring a richer flavour to the coffee, or other harvest, which under tree canopy grows and matures at a slower rate.

Our Aim – The Bird Friendly Certification initiative E. Africa

Our aim at RSTC has been to start this initiative and consider feasibility Bird Friendly Certification for two of our long-established cooperatives; Buka Cooperative is a social enterprise made up of 303 members, located adjacent to the Semliki National Park, which produces coffee and Bundikakemba Cocoa Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited made up of 300 cocoa farmers. The objective is to initially gain value-added Bird Friendly certification to open BUKA coffee to both a wider and also other specific markets of ethical business and ornithological societies whilst massively enhancing the local ecosystem with increased forest canopy, aviflora and in turn increasing the already stunning regional bird population. Following this, as soon as we have certification criteria to work against, the aim is for additional attainment of Bird Friendly Certification for Cocoa from the Bundikakemba Cocoa Growers’ Cooperative Society Limited.

Our Feasibility Study

The Bird Friendly Certification initiative, E Africa feasibility study, carried out by academics from Mountains of the Moon University (MoM), evaluated the ecosystem, flora, fauna, communities and most importantly the respective coffee and cocoa cooperative farmers’ agricultural practices to consider if the SMBC Bird Friendly Certification criteria could be implemented and maintained along with other complimenting programs of ecotourism and Eco-technology including Solar energy and a bio-fuel alternative to charcoal for local communities. These additional programs will play an integral part, along with attaining Bird Friendly certification, in terms of the community supporting the ecosystem and in return their ecologically rich-region, with increased bird populations, will offer the community Eco-tourism opportunities and financial rewards.