Project Background

Commercial tea plantations (above) can be a virtual avian desert compared with smaller scale agriculture which has greater structure, more diverse cropping and tall trees (below).
Farming in Uganda in undergoing a massive series of changes. One of the main pillars of the Ugandan governments commitment to eradicate poverty is to modernize farming by improving crop husbandry and increasing farmer access to suitable markets. These changes will inevitably impact on biodiversity.

In April 2005, BTO was awarded a grant by the Darwin Initiative to investigate this problem, determine how the changes in farming will impact on birds, invertebrates and/or plants and devise methods of mitigating some of these negative effects.

The project ran from August 2005 to March 2009. Two PhD students, Theodore Munyuli and Dianah Nalwanga-Wabwire and two research assistants, Maurice Mutabazi and Raymond Katebaka, were appointed and were based at the Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources. They undertook reseach into the birds and pollinators. David Mushabe, at NatureUganda, is still pursuing a Masters degree and was responsible for mapping land use and undertaking socio-economic surveys. Olivia Nantaba, Uganda Wildlife Society, led on the dissemination aspects of the project including the production of a handbook for agricultural extension workers.

The project staff undertook research in 26 sites in the banana-coffee arc of Lake Victoria. Each site was aproximately one square kilometre and covered a range of agricultural intensity.

Over a 12 month period in 2006 & 2007 five visits were made to each site. At each site, invertebrates were surveyed using pan traps, direct observation and traps baited with fruit. Birds were also surveyed using point counts and ten minute counts along a transect. Land use was also surveyed and a socio-economic survey carried out.

Other field work complemented this set of baseline data. Pollination experiments in coffee determined whether particular habitat features increased the pollination success (and thus yields to the farmer).

These data are still in the process of being brought together to identify the main relationships between biodiversity and features of the farmed landscape and also place an economic value on biodiversity. A summary can be seen in the Results section. They can also be used to answer important questions such as the shape of the relationship between yield and components of bioversity and whether it is better to land spare or land share (i.e. set aside land for biodiversity conservation and farm the remainder intensively, or whether to maintain biodiversity in the farmed landscapes.

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