Status & Trends

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Uganda and its unique biodiversity

Both the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the National Environmental (cap 153) define biodiversity as the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. The three levels of biodiversity are therefore: genetic, species and ecosystem diversity.

 

Uganda covers an estimated total area of 236,040 Km2 (Map 1). Given Uganda  location in a zone between the ecological communities that are characteristic of the drier East African savannas and the more moist West African rain forests, combined with high altitude ranges, the country has a high level of biological diversity. The total number of species in Uganda is not known although a provisional list of 18,783 (NEMA, 2006) exists.



In two Ugandan forests only (Bwindi Impenetrable and Kibale National Parks), Ipulet (in prep.) recorded 173 species of polypore fungi, which is 16% of the total species known from North America, Tropical Africa and Europe. Uganda is also reported to have more species of primates than anywhere else on earth of similar area. For example, Kibale National Park covering 760 Km2 has 12 species of primates. Improved knowledge of such elements of biodiversity could raise the country  biodiversity importance far higher than reported above.



Uganda is one of the most bio-diverse countries in Africa, containing more than half of Africa  bird species and a very diverse set of vegetation types from the montane flora at 5,000 meters in the Ruwenzori to the lowland forest at 600 metres in the Semliki valley (NBI, 2010).
In Uganda, there are 380 mammals, over 1050 birds and over 600 fish species. The bird species are particularly rich, with about 10% of all the bird species in the world and one endemic species of bird, the Fox Weaver, is found only around Lake Opeta and Lake Bisina. The about 600 cichlid fish species are regionally endemic to Lake Victoria and other water bodies in the region. Insects and molluscs however make up the bulk of the world animals and many other taxa are also represented as well. There are 5,000 species of flowering plants and 406 gymnosperms and ferns recorded in Uganda. Of these, there are 54 woody plants that are considered to be under threat. These species are distributed in diverse ecosystem types, both natural and modified, such as forests, woodlands, soils, wetlands and aquatic systems, agro-ecological zones and urban environment. Uganda has about 70 species of endemic butterflies.


Uganda is one of the most bio-diverse countries in Africa, containing more than half of Africa bird species and a very diverse set of vegetation types from the montane flora at 5,000 meters in the Ruwenzori to the lowland forest at 600 metres in the Semliki valley (NBI, 2010).

In Uganda, there are 380 mammals, over 1050 birds and over 600 fish species. The bird species are particularly rich, with about 10% of all the bird species in the world and one endemic species of bird, the Fox Weaver, is found only around Lake Opeta and Lake Bisina. The about 600 cichlid fish species are regionally endemic to Lake Victoria and other water bodies in the region. Insects and molluscs however make up the bulk of the world animals and many other taxa are also represented as well. There are 5,000 species of flowering plants and 406 gymnosperms and ferns recorded in Uganda. Of these, there are 54 woody plants that are considered to be under threat. These species are distributed in diverse ecosystem types, both natural and modified, such as forests, woodlands, soils, wetlands and aquatic systems, agro-ecological zones and urban environment. Uganda has about 70 species of endemic butterflies.


Biodiversity at the species level

High ecosystem diversity is often associated with high species richness as each ecosystem tends to have a set of species unique to it. In Uganda, species level knowledge and information on existing taxa is limited to the commonly studied species including birds, mammals, butterflies, higher plants, reptiles, amphibians and fish (Table 3), partly because of their relative conspicuousness or economic importance. Little is known about the less conspicuous and lower but nonetheless important forms of life such as below ground biodiversity.

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