Park conservation or degradation? iCLUE modelling of land use change projections in the upper Manafwa watershed on Mount Elgon, Uganda

Hosea Opedes*, Michiel van Eupen, Caspar A. Mücher, Jantiene E.M. Baartman, Frank Mugagga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Land use changes result from interactions between different factors over time. Land use models support natural resource conservation by helping stakeholders to understand and predict these changes. Through such model-based projections, governments and conservationists can identify hotspots of encroachment and formulate informed decisions for sustainable conservation. Land use on Mount Elgon has undergone rapid changes in the conservation area and community land since the 1970s. Park encroachment has threatened natural cover due to population pressure and increasing demand for agricultural land. To support conservation efforts, this study conducted near-future potential land use change projections using historical land use change and iCLUE model simulations. This study established hotspots of land use conversion, locations of park encroachment and the extent of land use intensification in the upper Manafwa watershed of Mount Elgon. The study applied remote sensing, a geographic information system, and a land use change model (iCLUE), while considering nine land use classes to project land use change for 2030, 2040 and 2050 using a “business-as-usual” scenario. Stakeholder verification of the model output was conducted in a dedicated workshop. The results showed that in 2050, agriculture (44.24%) and low-stocked tropical high forest (22.56%) will be the largest land cover classes with bushland and shrubs as the smallest land cover classes (∼0.5%). Most of the land use conversion in the park is projected to occur along the boundary of the conservation area by agriculture and built-up areas. This study will guide stakeholders and decision makers in planning future sustainable management strategies to conserve and enhance remaining forest tracts in Mount Elgon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126493
JournalJournal for Nature Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Conservation
  • Driving factors
  • iCLUE model
  • Land use and land cover
  • Mount Elgon
  • Stakeholders


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