Uganda conservation news update – Mt. Elgon park boundaries ‘safe for now’


The recent news that president Museveni had issued a directive to carve out land from the Mt. Elgon National Park to resettle several hundred families has hit a near dead end, when it became known that a group of experts, constituted by the Prime Minister’s Office, had spoken out strongly against it.

It would appear that this saga is dating back into the early 1980’s when land set aside from the then National Forest Reserve was given to influential politicians and business people, and a second such exercise again left the beneficiaries with naught and those in power with all.

It was rightly pointed out that the re-demarcation of the park was done just a few years ago, after long and protracted consultations with neighbouring communities and that it would take an act of parliament to revise the park boundaries, not likely however to muster the required majority.

Mt. Elgon is a crucial water tower for Eastern Uganda and illegal logging is already having an influence on previously permanent streams turning into seasonal water veins, while illegal land occupation and poor farming methods have increased the risk of further catastrophic landslides. A fissure of over a foot wide has in recent months opened up along a stretch of over 40 kilometres inside the park, after a section of the forest was illegally cleared, and with water retention now compromised the soil of a lower layer is now said to gradually liquefy and act almost like soap, causing the upper layer to slowly begin to slide off over a wide area.

Notably, again it is politicians aiming at garnering support by promising land who have triggered the latest round of demands for carving up the park, but this time at least brought to a halt when existing government policies prevailed – for now that is.