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Evaluating conservation policy: integrated conservation and development in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Baker, Julia Elizabeth (2004) Evaluating conservation policy: integrated conservation and development in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86323) (KAR id:86323)


Integrated conservation and development has been adopted for the management of protected areas throughout the tropics. Evaluating this policy is therefore critical. Most evaluations to date have focused on impacts on local communities, particularly on attitudes towards conservation. In contrast, impacts on biodiversity and on threats to biodiversity are little studied. Consequently, the most critical aspect of the effectiveness of the integrated approach for protected area conservation has yet to be determined. The mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the prime tourist attraction of Uganda and the flagship species for efforts to conserve the forest. Various integrated strategies have been adopted at Bwindi to reduce threats to the gorillas from snares set for bushmeat, and from conflicts between conservation managers and local communities over lost access to resources and crop raiding by wild animals. Bwindi has been a National Park for over ten years and has been hailed a success in protected area management through its integrated approach. In particular, the establishment of harvest zones within the National Park for sanctioned resource collection was key in reducing conflicts around Bwindi, and in improving the attitudes of local communities towards the National Park. However, impacts of harvest zones on biodiversity or on reducing threats to biodiversity have not been determined. In this thesis I evaluate the integrated approach for protected area conservation. I determine the distribution of bushmeat poaching in Bwindi over the periods of National Park gazettement and sanctioned resource harvesting, the interactions between local communities and law enforcement rangers during gazettement and after harvest zones were established, and the distribution of gorillas in relation to illegal activity and harvest zones. The analysis was based on law enforcement data from 1986-2000, which covered the period of national park designation and establishment of harvest zones. Following the gazettement of Bwindi as a National Park, poachers entered the forest less frequently but set larger snare clusters while inside the forest. After harvest zones were established when local attitudes towards the National Park improved, poachers avoided heavily patrolled high harvest zones but continued their activities in the less well-patrolled interior forest and low and medium harvest zones. Overall however, law enforcement was most significant to patrol encounters with poaching. Most poachers in Bwindi are Bakiga agriculturalists hunting bushmeat with snares, mainly for domestic consumption. The activities of poachers over the gazettement and harvest zone periods indicates that the integrated programme failed to reduce threats to gorillas from snares, despite gaining local support for conservation. However, anecdotal records suggest that beekeepers of the harvest programme refrained from poaching after harvest zones were established. Several factors including law enforcement and impacts of sanctioned resource harvesting could have influenced the poachers. Therefore, while law enforcement appears central to the conservation strategy of Bwindi, further study of the benefits that poachers received from Bwindi's integrated programme is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the integrated approach in protected area conservation. Incidents of violent conflict between local communities and staff of Bwindi during gazettement primarily occurred because of the arrest of miners and pit sawyers, and were largely instigated by villagers. Thus the loss of income from gazettement was a major cause of conflict. After establishment of harvest zones, beekeepers of high harvest zones and communities adjacent to high harvest zones demonstrated their support for the National Park by reporting illegal activity to rangers. However, most interactions between communities and rangers after establishment of harvest zones were complaints about crop raiding, particularly by communities who received little assistance from the National Park with mitigating crop raiding by baboons. Therefore, substituting lost income and problem animal control would be appropriate strategies to alleviate conflict between local communities and managers of Bwindi, and reduce the threat that this conflict poses to gorillas. The establishment of harvest zones at Bwindi was in contrast to the more traditional methods of law enforcement employed for the mountain gorilla National Parks of the Virungas. The harvest zones were also controversial. Before Bwindi was gazetted a National Park, human disturbance from mining and pit sawing was considered a primary factor restricting gorillas to forest interior areas. After establishment of harvest zones, disturbance from harvesters and possible increases in illegal activity from allowing local communities into the National Park, could limit the forest areas utilised by gorillas. Gorillas remained concentrated in forest interior areas after establishment of harvest zones. In addition, gorillas continued not to utilise boundary areas of high harvest zones. Other species sensitive to human disturbance were also negatively associated with high harvest zones. Impacts from harvest zones were difficult to determine because several factors influence wildlife distribution in Bwindi, including ecological and demographic factors and historical human use of the forest. Nonetheless, disturbance from sanctioned resource harvesting on species of conservation concern appears an important consideration for managers of protected areas. In conclusion, a dual strategy of law enforcement and sanctioned resource harvesting is recommended for the conservation of Bwindi. Law enforcement was most significant to activities of local poachers, while sanctioned resource harvesting promoted community support for National Park conservation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Leader-Williams, Nigel
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86323
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:51 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2021 15:30 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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