Landscape Ecology

, 24:643 | Cite as

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

  • Joel HartterEmail author
  • Jane Southworth
Research Article


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.


Forest patches Wetlands Protected area Livelihoods Remote sensing 



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation grant (#0352008), a Working Forests in the Tropics Field Research Grant, and the Center for African Studies David L. Niddrie Memorial Scholarship. Permission to conduct this research was granted by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board, Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. We appreciate the continued cooperation with Makerere University Biological Field Station and colleagues Abe Goldman, Mike Binford, Colin and Lauren Chapman, Patrick Omeja, Dennis Twinomugisha, and Aventino Kasangaki. We are especially grateful to our field assistants Agaba Erimosi and Mwesigwe Peace for their hard work and diligence in data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI)University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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