Era-Lama

UGATIPA21
Era-Lama

Country: Uganda

Administrative region: Northern (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 3.57981 N, 31.75288 E

Area: 100km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species

IPA assessment rationale

Era-Lama qualifies as an IPA under criterion A(i), hosting all known individuals of the Endangered cycad, Encephalartos macrostrobilus.

Site description

The Era-Lama IPA is composed of Era Central Forest Reserve and the adjacent villages north and northeast of the reserve. The adjacent land is communally owned by the local communities. The IPA is located in Moyo and Palorinya sub-counties of in the West Madi county, Moyo district (West Nile region) of Uganda. It covers an area of 100 km2 with an altitudinal range of 630 - 1045 m. The IPA is situated on the plateau above the Albert Nile.

Botanical significance

Era-Lama lies within the southeastern part of the Sudanian Regional Centre of Endemism (White 1983). The Forest Department surveys yielded 145 species of trees and shrubs in the reserve alone (Davenport & Howard 1996). More extensive studies are required, with inclusion of all growth habits. The site’s flora is likely richer than currently known, particularly as herbaceous species that haven’t been adequately surveyed.
The Era-Lama IPA is one of the most important representatives of the Sudanian ecosystems in Uganda (White 1993). It is small-sized but harbours plant species of high national and global importance. This IPA is the only known site for Encephalartos macrostrobilus, a globally Endangered cycad species in Uganda (Ojelel et al. 2022). The land adjacent to the reserve harbours over 90% of the population of this cycad (Ojelel et al. 2022), leaving a much smaller percentage under formal protection.
This IPA also has at least two other globally important plant species namely Afzelia africana, and Vitellaria paradoxa. Vitellaria paradoxa is a globally vulnerable tree species (Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources 1998), growing in the woodland habitats of the reserve and surrounding areas. Throughout its range, this species has suffered overexploitation, being used for commercial charcoal production (Boffa et al., 1996; Fondoun & Onana 2001; Kalema and Beentje 2012), and its population in the Era-Lama IPA is facing the same fate. Farmers and the refugees from South Sudan seem to spare individuals of Vitellaria paradoxa on their land, mainly for its valuable shea butter.
Afzelia africana, is also a globally vulnerable species (Hills 2020), occurs in this IPA. In Uganda, this species grows in the northern parts of the country, mostly in unprotected sites. Murchison Falls National Park is the best protected area for this species, and Era-Lama IPA is one of the few others. This species is threatened with charcoal production in Uganda and is in need of more stringent protection measures to avert its decimation.
Coffea liberica var. dewevrei, a coffee wild relative of high potential for supporting and diversifying the coffee sector for climate resilience (Davis et al 2023), was reported by Davenport and Howard (1996), but its continued presence needs verification.

Habitat and geology

The Era-Lama IPA habitat is predominantly woodland growing on granitic rock outcrops. It is variably dominated by Acacia hockii, Combretum adenogonium, C. molle, Amblygonocarpus andongensis, Grewia mollis, with Rhus natalensis, Lannea schimperi, Sterculia setigera. Other vegetation types are wooded grassland, bushland, bushed grassland and open grassland.
The topography is characterized by low plains and rolling hills along the Nile River. At higher altitudes further northeast, Lobajo, Ayipe, Atiya and Otzi West CFRs overlook this IPA. The area receives about 1250 mm of rainfall per annum with a distinct dry period from December to February while November and March have moderate rainfall. The highest temperature recorded was 45°C in the months of January to February and lowest 29°C in the months of August to October. The soils mostly comprise of sandy lithosols (Jones and Wynants 1997). The globally threatened and Ugandan endemic E. macrostrobilus is found in areas covered by sandy lithosols, granitic rock outcrops and with the primary vegetation cover consisting of degraded savanna woodlands and isolated thorn bushes at a canopy height of 5 to 20 m (Jones and Wynants 1997). The habitat also has other globally important plant species namely Afzelia africana (VU), Vitellaria paradoxa (VU) and Dalbergia melanoxylon (NT).

Conservation issues

Era IPA includes Era Central Forest Reserve (CFR), managed by NFA and the surrounding community areas in which the cycad grows. All conservations strategies in this IPA need to involve the local communities for success. The Government of Uganda in 2017, through the Ministry of Water and Environment, issued a ban on any cutting, transportation and sale of A. africana and V. paradoxa tree logs and their products nationally. This ban was informed by the uncontrolled rampant, illegal harvesting. Accordingly, A. africana was assessed as nationally Endangered (MTWA 2018).
A recent survey by Ojelel et al. (2022) recorded 181 mature individuals of Encephalartos macrostrobilus in 43 colonies with a sex ratio of 2:5, female:male (or 28.6% female). This is the smallest population size of the four known and assessed cycad species in Uganda, apparently having declined from previous esti-mates (see Scott & Wynants 1997, Donaldson 2003), with only a small fraction conclusively sexed. The sex ratio of the population is skewed with the proportion of males more than double higher than that of females. Unfortunately, the habitat is continuously threatened by burning, widespread stone quarrying because of the many granitic rock outcrops, cattle grazing, and tree cutting for charcoal burning. The cycads are directly threatened by frequent burning and use of their seeds for spiritual purposes by some South Sudanian communities. Occasionally, there is cutting of the cycad leaves off the trees for no known purpose (Ojelel et al. 2022). These threats are escalated because over 90% of the population lies on communally owned land with no form of protection whatsoever. Only a small fraction (<5%) of the population occurs within the Era CFR (Ojelel et al. 2022). There is also illegal entry into the reserve and unabated degradation of the habitat in the whole IPA. This continues to cause drastic reduction in habitat quality, rendering the cycad unable to recruit juveniles to replenish its population. Increasing rate of tree felling and the subsequent habitat degradation may also limit presence and abundance of the insect pollinators for the cycad. Outside the reserve, cultivation activities affect the cycad individuals as they are cut down. Conversion of their suitable habitat to agriculture land is reducing their population.
There is need for long term research to monitor the expression of sex characteristics among the mature individuals in this cycad population so as to fully determine the sex ratio. Additional surveys especially towards the South Sudan border will validate the local claims of presence of additional individuals. In terms of securing the survival of this species, urgent measures ought to be put in place to safeguard the habitat. This could be in the form of a buy-off of the community land and expansion of Era Central Forest Reserve into the adjacent land to cover the whole IPA. There is also a need to create and enhance awareness among the local populace on cycad conservation and explore plausible avenues for incentivizing cycad conservation. Nature-based solutions for protection of the cycad and the entire biodiversity in the area, as well as ensuring sustainable community livelihoods, need to be found. Socio-economic benefits, e.g. through income generating initiatives such as eco-tourism based on the cycad, need to be explored.

Ecosystem services

The seeds of Encephalartos macrostrosbilus are used as beads, which are worn by children from South Sudanese communities as they are believed to dispel bad omens (Ojelel et al. 2022). Among the local community, a limited number of residents have planted it as an ornamental plant (Alule pers. comm., 2018). More generally, Era-Lama IPA provides a number of ecosystem services. The IPA serves the role of stabilizing the soils and maintaining the general hydrology of the area. There is tree cutting to provide firewood and produce charcoal, pasture for cattle, granite stones for construction, and hut construction materials such as thatch grass, fibre, reeds and poles.

Site assessor(s)

Samuel Ojelel, Makerere University Herbarium

James Kalema, Makerere University Herbarium

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Encephalartos macrostrobilus Scott Jones & Wynants A(i) True True True True False Frequent
Afzelia africana Sm. ex Pers. A(i) False False False False True Frequent
Vitellaria paradoxa C.F.Gaertn. A(i) False False False False True Scarce
Khaya grandifoliola C.DC. A(i) False False False False True Scarce

Encephalartos macrostrobilus Scott Jones & Wynants

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
True
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Frequent

Afzelia africana Sm. ex Pers.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Frequent

Vitellaria paradoxa C.F.Gaertn.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Scarce

Khaya grandifoliola C.DC.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
False
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Scarce

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest No value Minor
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp Forest No value Minor
Savanna - Dry Savanna No value Major
Savanna - Moist Savanna No value Minor
Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Lowland Grassland No value Minor
Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers, Streams, Creeks [includes waterfalls] No value Minor
Rocky Areas - Rocky Areas [e.g. inland cliffs, mountain peaks] No value Major
Artificial - Terrestrial - Pastureland No value Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Savanna - Dry Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Lowland Grassland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers, Streams, Creeks [includes waterfalls]

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Rocky Areas - Rocky Areas [e.g. inland cliffs, mountain peaks]

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Artificial - Terrestrial - Pastureland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation No value Major
Agriculture (pastoral) No value Minor
Tourism / Recreation No value Minor

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Agriculture (pastoral)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Tourism / Recreation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Low Ongoing - stable
Human intrusions & disturbance - Work & other activities Low Ongoing - stable
Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Medium Ongoing - stable
Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Medium Ongoing - increasing
Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying Low Ongoing - increasing

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Human intrusions & disturbance - Work & other activities

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Era Central Forest Reserve Forest Reserve (conservation) protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA 74

Era Central Forest Reserve

Protected area type:
Forest Reserve (conservation)
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area overlaps with IPA
Areal overlap:
74

Bibliography

White, A.F., 1983

The vegetation of Africa. A descriptive memoir to accompany the UNESCO/AETFAT/UNSO vegetation map of Africa

Davis, A.P., Kiwuka, C., Faruk, A., Mulumba, J. & Kalema, J., 2023

A review of the indigenous coffee resources of Uganda and their potential for coffee sector sustainability and development.

Frontiers in Plant Sciences, Vol 13.1057317

Hawthorne, W., 1998

Khaya grandifoliola. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T32172A9684738.

White, F., 1993

The AETFAT chorological classification of Africa: history, methods and applications.

Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique, Vol 62, page(s) 225-281

Boffa J.M., Yaméogo G., Nikiéma P. & Knudson D.M., 1996

Shea nut (Vitellaria paradoxa) production and collection in agroforestry parklands of Burkina Faso

Non-wood Forest Products 9: Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems (pub. FAO), page(s) 110-122

Lwanga, J., 1996

Otzi and Era forest reserves Biodiversity Report

Otzi and Era Forest Reserves Biodiversity Report (pub. Forest Department), page(s) 15-29

Donaldson, J.S., 2010

Encephalartos macrostrobilus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41918A10595573

Available online

Fondoun J.M & Onana J., 2001

Ethnobotany and Importance of Three Local Species in Northern Cameroon

Combating Desertification with Plants (pub. Springer Verlag)

Hills, R., 2020

Afzelia africana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T33032A67742420.

Available online

Jones, S. & Wynants, J., 1997

Encephalartos macrostrobilus (Zamiaceae), a new cycad species from northern Uganda

Encephalartos, Vol 50, page(s) 19-17

Kalema, J. & Beentje, H., 2012

Conservation Checklist of the Trees of Uganda

Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources, 1998

Vitellaria paradoxa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T37083A10029534

Available online

MTWA, 2018

Red List of Threatened Species of Uganda 2018

Ojelel, S. Mucunguzi, P. & Kalema, J., 2022

Population size, sex ratio and their implications on conservation status of Encephalartos macrostrobilus (Scott Jones & Wynants)

Encephalartos, Vol 139, page(s) 6-11

World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 1998

Albizia malacophylla var. malacophylla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 1998: e.T35813A9958955

Available online

Recommended citation

Samuel Ojelel, James Kalema (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Era-Lama (Uganda). https://tipas.kew.org/site/era-lama/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)