Victoria University marks a historic moment in the conservation and promotion of Uganda’s beauty and biodiversity through an innovative approach to higher education. In a significant development, the university will today sign a partnership with global conservationist and media influencer Autro Islas Allende, to establish the Autro Islas Allende Environment and Conservation Centre.

Autro Islas Allende, known for his commitment to environmental causes, is in Uganda for the second time, courtesy of ‘Back to the Source Tours.’ Having previously visited in 2021, he has been actively involved in global efforts against the destruction of our planet and animal abuse.

Uganda, often referred to as the ‘Pearl of Africa,’ boasts diverse ecosystems, charismatic species, and unique natural wonders. However, the country faces challenges such as habitat degradation and species loss. Victoria University, recognizing the urgency of these issues, has resolved to establish the Autro Islas Allende Environment and Conservation Centre.

The problems facing biodiversity conservation efforts in Uganda occur at all levels. Although Uganda is a party to a number of international conventions, it generally lacks the resources to effectively implement them. The country has many environmental laws, policies, guidelines, and management plans on the books, but little implementation or enforcement for most of them.

However, there are multiple impediments to effective law enforcement efforts in certain cases. At the village level, many people are ignorant of the natural resources laws and do not understand the importance of sustainable use of the environment and natural resources. There is a need for environmental awareness, education at all levels, from the top Government officials down to the schoolchildren in the villages.

There is also a need for better ecological data from all areas of the field so that critical trends in over-exploitation of biodiversity and ecosystems can be determined and efforts made to address them.
As a university, our role is not to just complain or be bystanders in such a situation. We must offer solutions. This is why we have decided to partner with Autro, to establish the Autro Islas Allende Environment and Conservation Centre.

The primary role of this Centre will be to create and disseminate new knowledge, with a focus on integrating conservation education into all our academic programmes. It will also focus, on international students exchange programmes, innovation and training projects for students, and supporting of communities harboring the country’s beauty that needs to be protected. More so, as a higher education institution, our responsibility extends beyond traditional teaching; we must shape future leaders with a sustainable mindset and skillset.

In collaboration with Autro and his team, the Centre will also aim at raising awareness and educating communities in Uganda and the East African region about the value of their natural resources. The goal is to empower individuals and students, to actively participate in conservation efforts and understand the importance of sustainable use.

Uganda faces challenges in biodiversity conservation, ranging from inadequate protection of key areas to issues at the district and community levels. The Autro Islas Allende Environment and Conservation Centre will address these challenges by conducting research, promoting environmental awareness at all levels, supporting Government and facilitating community involvement in zoning and planning.

Furthermore, the Centre will play a crucial role in gathering ecological data to determine trends in biodiversity exploitation and overexploitation. Victoria University students and staff will actively engage in research to ensure that the gathered knowledge is effectively utilized.

To achieve lasting impact, the Centre will also find new markets for sustainably produced natural products by students, as a way enabling them start projects to reduce on unemployment of youth in this country.

Victoria University is committed to reimagining the purpose of higher education in the face of environmental challenges. The establishment of the Autro Islas Allende Environment and Conservation Centre is a step towards fostering a sustainable world for future generations.

There is a great deal of resilience in Uganda, and there is real hope for the environment because many people still rely directly on it. The primary motivation for conservation should reside not only in in the he remnant fauna and habitats but with the country’s people too.