Uganda is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This is a reflection of the country's commitment to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity. Further, in decision V1/26 the Conference of Parties, in which Uganda participated, adopted the strategic plan for the CBD. Parties committed themselves to a more effective and coherent implementation of the objectives of the convention to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all. In recent years, national policies have been reviewed by the line ministries and/or lead agencies to ensure that they conform to the provisions of CBD.

Below ground biodiversity (BGBD) contributes a wide range of essential services to the sustainable functions of all ecosystems, by acting as the primary driving agents of nutrient cycling, regulating the dynamics of soil organic matter, soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission, modifying soil physical structure and water regime, enhancing the amount and efficiency of nutrient acquisition by the vegetation through mycorrhiza and nitrogen fixing bacteria and influencing plant health through the interaction of pathogens and pests with natural predators and parasites. These services are not only essential to the function of natural ecosystems but also constitute an important resource for the sustainable management of agricultural ecosystems.

One of the activities undertaken during the project development process was country documentation of the state of knowledge on the issues related to conservation and management of below ground diversity and capacity building.

This publication consists of five papers, each addressing a key BGBD functional group. The first deals with macrofauna, the second with soil pests and pathogens, the third with rhizosphere microbiota, the fourth with soil macrosymbionts and the fifth with decomposer microbiota. The publication will no doubt guide the formulation of strategies for conservation and sustainable management of BGBD in Uganda.

The publication presents part of the findings of the global project Conservation and Management of BGBD (CSM-BGBD). The project is implemented in seven tropical countries, namely Brazil, Cote d'Ivore, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and Uganda. It is executed by TSBF-CIAT, with co-financing from the Global Environmental Facility and implementation support from the United Nations Environmental Programme. The authors appreciate the support of Makerere University, the national executing agency, and the National Agricultural Research Organization, the collaborating institution. The project's national and global co-ordination offices rendered invaluable assistance.