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Groundbreaking Initiative to Bolster Climate Resilience and Biodiversity in Uganda's Greater Virunga Landscape

In an ambitious move to combat the effects of climate change and safeguard biodiversity, WWF Uganda, in collaboration with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and other partners are set for another intervention to remove the invasive species that have overrun vast sections of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Uganda's premier wildlife sanctuaries. These species pose a significant threat to the park's ecological balance, crowding out native flora and fauna, and undermining conservation efforts.

Sam Mwandha, UWA's Executive Director, emphasized the critical nature of this initiative, stating that the invasive species in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) not only threaten the ecological integrity of this vital habitat but also the livelihoods of communities relying on the park's resources.

“Estimated 40-50% of QENP’s former open savannah grasslands is evaded by invasive plants and these disruption of food chains, reduce available habitats for wildlife species, limit access to water points and hunting areas,” he said. He also added that the invasives have led to extinctions of native species too.

According to Annet Tumwine, Project Manager at WWF Uganda, under the Climate Adaptation and Protected Area Initiative (CAPA), the partners are taking decisive action to restore balance and ensure the park's resilience against the backdrop of a changing climate.

“This pioneering project aims to utilize nature-based solutions to enhance climate resilience and protect the rich biodiversity within the Greater Virunga landscape, particularly focusing on the surrounding areas of protected regions,” she said.

The project also seeks to engage local communities in its conservation efforts, recognizing their invaluable role in sustaining the Greater Virunga landscape.

Nakato Kavuma, a resident of Kyambura, a village adjacent to the park, shared envisions the project activities as ones that will restore the lost glory of communities adjacent to the parks.

"Our ancestors have lived in harmony with this land for generations. Seeing it threatened hurts us deeply. The CAPA project gives us hope, not just for the park's wildlife but for our children's future."

By combining scientific innovation with traditional knowledge, the CAPA project represents a comprehensive approach to conservation that could serve as a model for similar ecosystems globally. Its success hinges on the collaborative efforts of government authorities, non-governmental organizations, and the communities that call the Greater Virunga landscape home.

As the project progresses, all eyes will be on Queen Elizabeth National Park, a test case for whether integrated, community-inclusive strategies can turn the tide in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Climate Adaptation and Protected Area Initiative (CAPA) project is funded by the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) through International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). The project aims at creating conducive habitat through removal of encroachment thickets, encouraging regeneration of palatable native fodder for grazers as well as reducing human-wildlife conflicts related to habitat degradation among others.
© Happy Ali
Some of the Invasive species in QENP