Population and Environment

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 452–479 | Cite as

Now there is no land: a story of ethnic migration in a protected area landscape in western Uganda

  • Joel Hartter
  • Sadie J. Ryan
  • Catrina A. MacKenzie
  • Abe Goldman
  • Nicholas Dowhaniuk
  • Michael Palace
  • Jeremy E. Diem
  • Colin A. Chapman
Original Paper


Migration is a major factor shaping protected area landscapes. Combining historical narratives with interview, census, and satellite data, we investigate the ways in which migration has transformed the landscape surrounding Kibale National Park in western Uganda. We show that the region has gone from sparsely populated bushland to densely settled subsistence agricultural landscape occupied by tens of thousands of small-scale farming households since the last half of the twentieth century. Population density closer to the park has grown to 1.5 times higher than places more distant from the park. Migration to areas near the park has not necessarily been driven by economic benefits from the park itself, but rather by important push and pull factors at different scales. Results indicate that understanding the social and cultural underpinnings of human migration to, and environmental change along, the borders of protected areas is fundamental to developing appropriate people–park policy as a result of neighboring land use intensification brought about by changing demographics.


Migration Landscape transformation Population growth Kibale National Park Uganda Protected areas 



This research was supported by National Science Foundation (0624265, 1114977) and National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, and NASA Terrestrial Ecology (NNX08AL29G) grants. We are grateful to Ahabyona Peter for his hard work and dedication, Kangabe Edith, who was gracious in providing time and her network, Elvira Breytenbach for her tireless effort at the National Archives, and Justin McMullen, Silvia Bellasai, and Irene Feretti for data entry. Makerere University Biological Field Station, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Council for Science and Technology and many local officials provided useful assistance and granted permission for this research. We thank Christina Herrick for additional work on the satellite analysis. We also thank our study participants who gave their valuable time and knowledge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Hartter
    • 1
  • Sadie J. Ryan
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Catrina A. MacKenzie
    • 7
    • 8
  • Abe Goldman
    • 2
  • Nicholas Dowhaniuk
    • 9
  • Michael Palace
    • 10
  • Jeremy E. Diem
    • 11
  • Colin A. Chapman
    • 12
    • 13
  1. 1.Environmental Studies Program, UCB 397BoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Emerging Pathogens InstituteUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Global Health and Translational ScienceSUNY Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuseUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental and Forest BiologySUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuseUSA
  6. 6.School of Life Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering, and ScienceUniversity of KwaZulu NatalScottsvilleSouth Africa
  7. 7.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  8. 8.Department of GeographyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  9. 9.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  10. 10.Earth System Research Center, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and SpaceUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  11. 11.Department of GeosciencesGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  12. 12.Department of Anthropology, McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  13. 13.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA

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