Past, present and future perspectives


In 1994, the combined size of the 95 protected areas in East Africa was about 12 million hectares, bigger than the combined areas of Djibouti, Rwanda, Burundi and Eritrea (UNDP 2000), although this calculation included the sizeable reserves of Tanzania. In 1999 another assessment was undertaken, which excluded Burundi and Djibouti (due to lack of information), and Tanzania (now placed in Southern Africa). This survey found 119 nationally protected terrestrial areas and 16 marine protected areas (World Bank 2001a). The slight change in overall size results from the exclusion of Tanzania from this calculation and the increase in number of terrestrial protected areas in the other countries. There are now also 17 internationally protected areas, although Burundi, Eritrea and Somalia have yet to designate any internationally important sites. National protected sites in Eastern Africa are shown in Table 2b.6, internationally protected ones in Table 2b.7.

Table 2b.6 nationally protected areas in Eastern Africa
Terrestrial   Marine
Country Number Area (000 ha) % land area Number
Eritrea 3 501 4.3  
Ethiopia 21 5 518 5.0  
Kenya 50 3 507 6.0 14
Rwanda 6 362 13.8  
Somalia 2 180 0.3 2
Uganda 37 1 913 7.9  
Total 119 11 981 16

Data not available for Burundi and Djibouti.

Source:World Bank 2001

Table 2b.7 internationally protected areas in Eastern Africa
Biosphere Reserves* World Heritage Sites Ramsar Sites
Country Number Area (000 ha) Number Area (000 ha) Number Area (000 ha)
Burundi 0   0 0 0  
Eritrea 0   0 0 0  
Ethiopia 0   1 22 0  
Kenya 5 891 2 300 4 90
Rwanda 1 15 0 0 0  
Somalia 0   0 0 0  
Uganda 1 220 2 132 1 15
Total 7 1 126 5 454 5 105

Data not available for Djibouti. *Some Biosphere Reserves are also World Heritage Sites or Ramsar sites

Source: UNDP and others 2000, Ramsar 2002

While policies, laws and regulations are putting greater emphasis on community participation in biodiversity conservation in Eastern Africa, the results have been less than satisfactory in some areas. For example, in Ethiopia, weak law enforcement has resulted in encroachment of protected areas by neighbouring communities and refugees. Areas that are suffering include the Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park, one of the most heavily settled protected areas in Africa now completely overrun by people who are now permanently settled. Awash National Park is being severely degraded as a result of illegal occupancy, especially in the northern part where nomadic pastoralists contribute to over-grazing (WCMC 1991).

A successful example of protection is the Mgahinga Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT), a GEF-funded endowment, which supports communities around the two parks of Uganda, the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The Trust is intended to convey management responsibility and long-term proprietorship to the Government of Uganda and local communities, and provides a chance to pilot test conservation and development partnerships between multiple stakeholders. The Trust funds community development projects, research projects and park management activities, and these have been successful so far (MBIFCT 1994).

Uganda has also recently completed a Protected Area System Plan (UWA 2000). This was developed in recognition of the fact that protected areas were neglected during the wars and conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s and that wildlife populations were reduced or almost wiped out in some areas and large areas settled by displaced communities. The plan was developed with the active participation of these communities, and various types of management were agreed for different areas, including Community Wildlife Management Areas, forestry reserves managed by the Forestry Department, and animal sanctuaries managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The plan is currently awaiting approval by Uganda's parliament.

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