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Cell Phone - +256 701 483088 [email protected]

Rwenzori Mountains Park Management History

Rwenzori Mountains Park Management History

Parts of the Rwenzori Mountains above 2,200m covering about 995 sq. km were gazetted as Forest Reserve in 1941. The first forest management plan, written in 1948, prescribed strict protective management in view of the mountain’s role as Uganda’s largest and most valuable water catchment. A second management plan in 1961 continued to emphasize the importance of water catchment protection; however the extraction of traditional forest products such as firewood, bamboo, and specified types of timber were permitted.

Since the sixties, the mountain increasingly was threatened by the demands of a growing population. Poachers removed most of the large animals from the main valleys while cultivation of steeper land below the protected area boundary caused serious soil erosion.

Uganda was isolated during the Seventies and some of the Eighties by internal unrest. The return of stability in the late eighties, and renewed foreign visitation to the country, came at a time of massive international concern for environmental protection. National and international organizations and individuals noted and spotlighted the problems faced by the Rwenzori. This led to a Proposal for the Establishment of a National Park in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda (Howard, 1988), submitted to the Government of Uganda by the World Wildlife Fund/ New York Zoological Society (UWA, 1999).

Later government appointed a team that held extensive consultations regarding the elevation of Rwenzori Mountains Forest Reserve to National Park status. Among the key stakeholders consulted were the communities, the majority of whom supported the proposal. The team produced a report, “Rwenzori Mountains National Park: Results of Public Enquiry and Recommendations for Establishment”. In 1991, the Rwenzori Mountains were gazetted as a National Park, affording total protection to all flora and fauna. Management was transferred from the Forest Department to Uganda National Parks, now Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) thereby accorded higher conservation status which excludes any form of exploitative use of resources. UWA established the Park Headquarters at Nyakalengijo village close to the tourism trailhead. Outposts (Ranger stations) were established at Kilembe, Bundibugyo and Kazingo (near Bukuku).

In 1994, in further recognition of its value to the international community, Rwenzori Mountains National Park was designated a World Heritage Site and RAMSAR site in 2009.

Between 1997 and 2001 the park was closed to tourists due to insurgency as the Allied Democratic Forces, used the park as their base as they fought with Government troops. The park was reopened in July 2001 after they were defeated.

Originally at Nyakalengijjo which used to be the park headquarters, there was insufficient infrastructure for staff. In 2005, Hima cement factory donated buildings to UWA at Rwankingi and the park headquarters were shifted to this location. This was also to enable staff access social services in Kasese town. Other than the park headquarters, the park is administered under 11 ranger outposts along the entire boundary and is a constituent protected area within Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area landscape and therefore supervised by the Conservation Area Manager of Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area.

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