Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve

UGATIPA17
Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve

Country: Uganda

Administrative region: Central (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 0.59696 S, 31.78167 E

Area: 57.56km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

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

IPA assessment rationale

Mujuzi CFR qualifies as an IPA under criterion A(i) as one of only two sites globally, and the only protected area, from which Rinorea ituriensis (CR) is known. Further botanical surveys are required at the site to fully catalogue the diversity of this site.

Site description

Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve is located within Masaka District along the shore of Lake Victoria. Spanning a length of 25 km north to south, this site is relatively flat, covering around 60 m in altitude. Mujuzi has areas of intact, lakeshore forest, that has otherwise been widely lost around Lake Victoria, but the reserve has not received much survey effort, particularly for herbaceous species. This site was visited in 2023 as part of the Uganda TIPAs project.

Botanical significance

The site is of global conservation importance as one of only two sites known globally for the Critically Endangered species Rinorea ituriensis. The specimen from this IPA was originally described as Rinorea sp. B in FTEA, however, this has since been reidentified as Rinorea ituriensis. The Red List assessment of this species should probably, therefore, be downgraded to Endangered as it is now known from two sites. However, the second occurrence of R. ituriensis, the type specimen collected in 1908, occurs outside a protected area in the Orientale region of D.R. Congo (Paradis & Stévart, 2021). Here the species may well be threatened by small-scale agriculture and so conservation at Mujuzi, the only protected area globally that this species occurs in, is needed to ensure this species does not become extinct.
Endagered tree fern, Alsophila camerooniana var. ugandensis, is also known from this IPA. This species is endemic to Uganda and is only known from two other sites, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Buikwe District. While the former site is reasonably secure, the latter site is heavily transformed with much of this species' potential habitat lost (Google Earth 2023). Conservation of this species within Mujuzi CFR is therefore important to prevent an increased risk of extinction.
The Endangered tree Afrocarpus usambarensis was listed in field surveys by Lwanga (1996), although this species is not known from Uganda and this was more likely to have been Podocarpus milanjianus or Afrocarpus dawei which are known from nearby Sango Bay.
The site needs more extensive botanical survey work, which may well reveal addition threatened and rare species.

Habitat and geology

Much of the site is covered by medium altitude, semi-deciduous forest with swampy areas present at lower altitudes. Surveys by Lwanga (1996) found Piptadeniastrum africanum to be dominant throughout the site. In addition, recent surveys undertaken by the Uganda TIPAs project found trees such as Pseudospondias microcarpa, Pycnanthus angolensis, Canarium schweinfurthii and Raphia farinifera to be common. In the understorey, small trees of ?Trichilia sp. are dominate while herbs of Palisota schweinfurthii and, in wetter areas, Marantochloa purpurea are abundant. Hymenocoleous ?hirsutus was observed frequently on the forest floor within the interior. There are areas of open Hyparrhenia savanna within the reserve, which are likely derived from cattle grazing.
The site is underlain by loamy-clay soils, transitioning to sandy soils towards the lake shoreline.

Conservation issues

Mujuzi is a Central Forest Reserve gazetted in 1932 and is a collection of three former forest reserves, Mujuzi, Kiraala and Byante from north to south. Along the lakeshore there are a small number of fishing landing sites, the largest of which, Ddimo and Bale, have associated fishing villages within the reserve. While 1990s surveys found that there was encroachment into the forest around Ddimo, particularly extraction of timber and fuel, satellite imagery suggests that agricultural encroachment near the village of Katinyondo and north of Bale has resulted in greater forest loss since 2010 (Lwanga, 1996; World Resources Institute, 2023). During our visit to the site, we observed small-scale logging and charcoal burning in the lattermost area. While we did not observe grazing within the reserve, the grassy areas are likely kept open by cattle farming.
In 2022, a local campaign, “Save Mujuzi Forest”, was established when a local businessman claimed to have a mailo (freehold) land title on the forest. Part of the forest had been cleared for growing pineapples as a result of this claim (Kutamba, 2022). Other legal cases are ongoing concerning those who have claimed land titles within the reserve (Ssekweyama, 2022). UPDF officers were subsequently deployed to this site and pineapple growers were ordered to vacate (Ssenyonga, 2022). It is important that land rights are resolved in the area and that the granting of land titles within protected areas is halted as such disputes are undermining conservation efforts.
The Masaka District Forest Office estimates that 2,545 acres (ca. 10 km2) of forest cover has been lost to logging and cultivation overall (Ssenyonga, 2022). But despite several threats, this forest is in better condition than Jubiya CFR to the north where fishing activities have been restricted, forcing communities to exploit forest resources for their livelihoods.

Ecosystem services

The site is a source of timber and fuel for local communities and firewood is collected by fishing communities to cure fish. Cattle are also grazed at the site within the grassland and there has been cultivation of crops within the reserve. The latter activities are not permitted, but land disputes have weakened NFA regulation of the site.
The forest itself has been described as a windbreak that buffers wind coming off Lake Victoria while local forestry officers also suggest that the forest helps prevent drought and regulate rains (Kutamba, 2022; Ssenyonga, 2022). The forest may also stabilise soils and prevent siltation of lake shore habitats that are important to fishing communities.

Site assessor(s)

Sophie Richards, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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
Rinorea ituriensis M.Brandt A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Alsophila camerooniana (Hook.) R.M.Tryon var. ugandensis (Holttum) J.P.Roux A(i) True True True False False Unknown

Rinorea ituriensis M.Brandt

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:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Alsophila camerooniana (Hook.) R.M.Tryon var. ugandensis (Holttum) J.P.Roux

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:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest No value Major
Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Lowland Grassland No value Major
Artificial - Terrestrial - Pastureland No value Unknown
Artificial - Terrestrial - Plantations No value Minor
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp Forest No value Major

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Lowland Grassland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Artificial - Terrestrial - Pastureland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Unknown

Artificial - Terrestrial - Plantations

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Swamp Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation No value Major
Agriculture (arable) No value Minor
Agriculture (pastoral) No value Major
Harvesting of wild resources No value Minor

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Agriculture (arable)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Agriculture (pastoral)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Harvesting of wild resources

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas Medium Ongoing - stable
Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming High Ongoing - stable
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Medium Ongoing - increasing
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops High Ongoing - trend unknown

Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

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

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve Forest Reserve (conservation) protected/conservation area matches IPA 58

Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve

Protected area type:
Forest Reserve (conservation)
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area matches IPA
Areal overlap:
58

Bibliography

Google Earth, 2023

Google Earth Pro 2023

World Resources Institute, 2023

Global Forest Watch 2023

Available online

Kutamba, W., 2022

Conservationists protest Mujuzi Forest give away

Daily Monitor, Vol 9 February Available online

Lwanga, J., 1996

Trees and Shrubs

Mujuzi, Sesse Islands and Jubiya Forest Reserves Biodiversity Report

Paradis, A. H., & Stévart, T., 2021

Rinorea ituriensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T174470719A174514015

Available online

Ssekweyama, E., 2022

Cultivators in Masaka Encroach on Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve

Uganda Radio Network, Vol 4 February Available online

Ssenyonga, I., 2022

Security deployed to guard Masaka forest reserves

The Cooperator, Vol 22 June Available online

Recommended citation

Sophie Richards, Iain Darbyshire (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Mujuzi Central Forest Reserve (Uganda). https://tipas.kew.org/site/mujuzi-central-forest-reserve/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)