Rwenzori Mountains Conservation and Environmental Management | WWF

Rwenzori Mountains Conservation and Environmental Management

Geographical location:

Africa/Madagascar > East Africa > Uganda

Summary

The Rwenzori Mountains Conservation and Development Project is working with the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and its surrounding community to devise and implement a scientifically-based conservation strategy for the park, emphasizing local needs. To complement this work, the project is assisting the park to promote rural development activities that serve to reduce the demands of the local community on the park's natural resources and is conducting community conservation awareness programmes. The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and its component parastatal, Uganda National Parks.

Background

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP) established in 1991 covers nearly 100,000 ha in western Uganda and comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain chain, which includes Africa's third highest peak (Mount Margherita, 5,109 m a.s.l.). The region's glaciers, waterfalls and lakes make it one of Africa's most beautiful alpine areas. Rwenzori has been a focal point for international recognitions and was inscribed as a UN World Heritage Site in 1994 and designated a Ramsar site in 2009. Rwenzori is a transboundary massif shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where it is protected as the Virunga National Park, also a World Heritage and a Ramsar Site. The RMNP’s globally important biodiversity includes many natural habitats of endangered species and a rich and unusual flora. Of the 278 woody plant taxa found in the afro-alpine zone, 81% are endemic to East Africa and 19% are found only in the afro-alpine belt (Herberg, 1961; Lush, 1993). There are 106 species of mammals known to the Rwenzori Mountains, of which three are not found anywhere else in the world and a further 15 are endemic to the Albertine Rift. RMNP is also home to many endangered species like the African Forest Elephant Loxodonta Africana cyclotis (V) and the Eastern Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes (V). Along the 160 km park border there are many local communities that are economically poor and have very limited access to a variety of goods and services. Consequently, the Rwenzori area is a priority area in the work for sustainable development.

The Rwenzori Mountains Conservation and Environmental Management Project conducted assessment of the area's natural resource problems and the knowledge, attitude and practices of the communities on the park. The findings highlight a number of challenges related to community uses of the park, park-community relations, tourism development, park management, population growth, and agricultural practices. The project has also worked with the park, the local governments and neighbouring communities to develop Environment Action Plans and conservation education strategy to create awareness about Rwenzori among the community.

Objectives

Phase I:
1. To assist in the development of policies and regulations, including a park management plan, involving participation of key stakeholders.
2. To reduce the communities' pressure on the park through the identification and promotion of alternative natural resource management activities.
3. To increase the levels of conservation awareness and to improve attitudes of area residents to enable them to make informed decisions regarding sustainable natural resource management.
4. To strengthen local institutional capacity, including decision-making abilities (Park Management Advisory Committees, community-based organizations, etc.) for resource management and development activities.

Phase II:
1. To strengthen the capacity of Rwenzori Mountains National Park to effectively manage the park.
2. To reduce human pressures on the park and help meet subsistence resource needs.
3. To strengthen the relations between the park and communities.

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