Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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Mount Elgon

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Mount Elgon, on Uganda’s eastern border, is a long extinct volcano supporting a variety of habitats, including dense tropical hardwood and bamboo forests, as well as an assortment of grassland and riverine ecosystems. Roughly 2000 square kilometers on the Ugandan side of the mountain are managed as protected areas; the largest of these being Mount Elgon National Park – established in 1992.

Some of the densest population in the country makes its home along the park’s borders on the steep foot-slopes of the mountain. Most of these communities rely on pastoralism and subsistence agriculture; and with a growing population there is a strong demand for farmland and grazing land.

The Ugandan Government and several non-governmental agencies along with the local communities, strive to balance the livelihoods of the local people with the need to protect the important natural areas of Mt Elgon – upon which those livelihoods ultimately rely. The resettlement of local people in 1983, in an area previously managed as forest can be seen clearly seen in these images from 1973 and 2005. This resettlement proved to be quite problematic for local people and the government.

Since the mid 1980s, management of this area has taken a community based resource management approach, with improved participation and empowerment of the local comminutes. Nevertheless, continued growth of the area’s population makes striking a balance between protecting the mountain’s natural resources and meeting the needs of the local communities ever more challenging.
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