, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 643-656
Date: 14 Mar 2009

Dwindling resources and fragmentation of landscapes around parks: wetlands and forest patches around Kibale National Park, Uganda

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Abstract

Landscapes surrounding parks in most of the developing world, while still containing considerable biodiversity, also have rapidly growing human populations and associated agricultural development. Since the establishment of Kibale National Park first as a Crown Forest Reserve in 1932 and later as a park in 1993 in western Uganda, most access and resource extraction has been prohibited. The park has become nearly a complete island of forested land cover surrounded by intensive small-scale agriculture and some large-scale tea plantations, along with a network of wetland and forest patches. As the population grows outside the park and land becomes more scarce, remaining forests and wetlands are being used more intensively for material resources (e.g., fuelwood, building poles) and converted to other land uses (e.g., pasture, agriculture). This study uses both discrete and continuous data analyses of satellite imagery to examine these diminishing resource bases at the landscape level placing the results within the social context of conservation and parks. Findings reveal that the park boundaries have remained fairly intact whereas, the landscape surrounding the park has become increasingly fragmented. From a landscape perspective, while the park has indeed maintained its forest cover, it has become increasingly islandized with wetland and forest patches in the surrounding landscape becoming smaller in number and size. Those that have survived are now more isolated and even lower productivity than in 1984, which may be a precursor to their eventual loss in this landscape.