Research Article

Planning conservation areas in Uganda's natural forests

Peter Howarda1, Tim Davenporta2 and Fred Kigenyia3

a1 Ghana Wildlife Department, PO Box M239, Ministry Post Office, Accra, Ghana.

a2 WWF-Cameroon, PO Box 6776, Yaounde, Cameroon.

a3 Forest Department, PO Box 1752, Kampala, Uganda.


In the late 1980s the Ugandan Government decided to dedicate a fifth (3000 sq km) of the country's 15,000-sq-km forest estate to management as Strict Nature Reserves (SNRs)for the protection of biodiversity. The Forest Department subsequently undertook a 5-year programme of biological inventory and socioeconomic evaluation to select appropriate areas for designation. Sixty-five of the country's principal forests (including five now designated as National Parks) were systematically evaluated for biodiversity, focusing on five ‘indicator’ taxa (woody plants, birds, small mammals, butterflies and large moths). A scoring system was developed to compare and rank sites according to their suitability for nature reserve establishment and 11 key sites were identified, which, when combined with the country's 10 national parks, account for more than 95 per cent of Uganda's species. In order to satisfy multiple-use management objectives, the Man and the Biosphere model of reserve design is being applied at each forest, by designating a centrally located core area as SNR, with increasingly intensive resource use permitted towards the periphery of each reserve and adjacent rural communities.