Landscape Ecology

, 26:877 | Cite as

Landscapes as continuous entities: forest disturbance and recovery in the Albertine Rift landscape

  • Joel HartterEmail author
  • Sadie J. RyanEmail author
  • Jane Southworth
  • Colin A. Chapman
Research Article


Kibale National Park, within the Albertine Rift, is known for its rich biodiversity. High human population density and agricultural conversion in the surrounding landscape have created enormous resource pressure on forest fragments outside the park. Kibale presents a complex protected forest landscape comprising intact forest inside the park, logged areas inside the park, a game corridor with degraded forest, and forest fragments in the landscape surrounding the park. To explore the effect of these different levels of forest management and protection over time, we assessed forest change over the previous three decades, using both discrete and continuous data analyses of satellite imagery. Park boundaries have remained fairly intact and forest cover has been maintained or increased inside the park, while there has been a high level of deforestation in the landscape surrounding the park. While absolute changes in land cover are important changes in vegetation productivity, within land cover classes are often more telling of longer term changes and future directions of change. The park has lower Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values than the forest fragments outside the park and the formerly logged area—probably due to forest regeneration and early succession stage. The corridor region has lower productivity, which is surprising given this is also a newer regrowth region and so should be similar to the logged and forest fragments. Overall, concern can be raised for the future trajectory of this park. Although forest cover has been maintained, forest health may be an issue, which for future management, climate change, biodiversity, and increased human pressure may signify troubling signs.


Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Kibale National Park Forest fragments Land cover change Continuous analyses Reforestation Regrowth 



This research was supported by the National Science Foundation grant (#0352008). S.J. Ryan conducted this work while a Postdoctoral Associate at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a Center funded by NSF (Grant #EF-0553768), the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the State of California. Funding for C. Chapman was provided by Canada Research Chairs Program, National Geographic Society, and a NSERC grant. The imagery used in this analysis was purchased in part through NSF (SBR-9521918) as part of the ongoing research at the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC) at Indiana University. Permission to conduct this research was granted by Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and Uganda Wildlife Authority. We are grateful to Agaba Erimosi, Mwesigwe Peace, Kisembo Benjamin, and Byaruhanga Joseph for excellent assistance in the field; and Liz Binford and Barbara Cook for processing images.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Forest BiologyIllick Hall, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, (SUNY-ESF)SyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyLand Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI)GainesvilleUSA
  4. 4.McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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