Uganda Today: Integrated Conservation, Biodiversity And Sustainability: Uganda Case Point
I am a conservation biologist by training. Actually, I was one of the three Ugandan who went through the programme of training in The Biology of Conservation at the Chiromo Campus of Nairobi University, Kenya, when the programme was launched in the Department of Zoology towards the end of the 1970s. It was a multidisciplinary programme, meaning that The Biology of Conservation was a multidisciplinary science. This is unlike the sustainability sciences or team sciences of interdisciplinarity, crossdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and nondisciplinarity (or extradisciplinarity) all of which seek genuine interaction between scholars and non-scholars at varying levels of integration of Knowledge.
During our training at the University of Nairobi a variety of knowledge workers from across the university curriculum imparted knowledge to us, but at no time did all of them meet us at the same time. Therefore, the programme did not enable us to adequately interact during its discourse although there were always opportunities for us to interact with the men and women in the field when we were engaged in practical work or when we were interacting with professionals.
Conservation may be defined as the careful maintenance and upkeep of a natural resource to prevent it from disappearing or becoming derelict or extinct. A natural resource is the physical supply of something that exists in nature, such as soil, water, air, plants, animals and energy. Conservation protects the environment through the responsible use of natural resources. It is different from preservation, which protects the environment from harmful human activities.
Because of this, the integration of research from each of these areas should and is becoming a priority. A number of research priorities that allow for the transition from conflict to mutual compatibility between conservation and sustainability objectives have to be explored through research. These priorities include research that will improve our understanding of (1) ecosystem services and function provided by biodiversity that benefit humans; (2) the connection between biodiversity and poverty reduction; (3) biodiverse agriculture; (4) issues surrounding indigenous knowledge; and (5) the development of indicators that allow for the integrative assessment of biodiversity conservation and sustainability objectives.
Many writers are in agreement that the preservation of biodiversity is important if not essential in allowing humans to sustain their lives in a variety of ways. At the same time biodiversity conservation and human activity and development are often seen in conflict with each other. This conflict can be alleviated through the integration of biodiversity conservation with the three-pillar model of sustainability and sustainable development. For Uganda to achieve meaningful development, transformation and progress, conservation, biodiversity and sustainability must be taken as principles and integrated in one spectrum of civilization. However, this will be possible until the governors of the country institutionalize the sustainability sciences in our education system, particularly in higher education. Doing so is a 21st century imperative. We must have scholars developing conservation science, biodiversity science and sustainability science simultaneously at our institutions of higher learning. But this won’t be possible unless our education planners and managers as well as curriculum designers accept that integration sciences, also called sustainability sciences or team sciences, are superior to disintegrating disciplines.