How Can Drones Uncover Land Degradation Hotspots and Restoration Hopespots? An Integrated Approach in the Mount Elgon Region with Community Perceptions

H. Opedes, Shafiq Nedala, C.A. Mücher, J.E.M. Baartman*, Frank Mugagga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Human-induced land degradation in biodiverse regions like Mount Elgon threatens vital ecosystems. This study employs drone mapping and community insights to assess land use changes, degradation, and restoration in Mount Elgon, Uganda. Drone monitoring (2020–2023) covered six sites, complemented by household surveys (n = 499), Focus Group Discussions (FDGs), and interviews. Drone imagery shows agriculture and planted forest as dominant land use types, gradually replacing tropical high forest, bushland, and grassland. Drone image results showed that smallholder subsistence farming is leading to and enhancing degradation. Landslides and encroachment into the park were detected in three of the six sites. Trenches were the most adopted Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) measure. The trench adoption varied by location and crop type, creating restoration potential, notably in Elgon, Nabyoko, and Shiteka. Interviews and FGDs revealed adoption of trenches, grass strips, and afforestation as remedies to land degradation. Complex interactions exists among land use, degradation, and SWC measures in the upper Manafwa watershed, underscoring the urgency of addressing landslides and encroachment into the forest. Community-based initiatives are vital for hands-on SWC training, emphasizing long-term benefits. Collaboration among government, local communities, and NGOs is crucial to enforce conservation and restore Mt. Elgon National Park, while encouraging diversified income sources can reduce land dependency and mitigate degradation risks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages24
JournalLand
Volume13
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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