Rwenzori Mountains

UGATIPA18
Rwenzori Mountains

Country: Uganda

Administrative region: Western (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 0.38900 N, 29.97649 E

Area: 2033.26km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, A(iii)Site contains one or more highly restricted endemic species that are potentially threatened, A(iv)Site contains one or more range restricted endemic species that are potentially threatened, B(ii)Site contains an exceptional number of species of high conservation importance, C(iii)Site contains nationally threatened or restricted habitat or vegetation types, AND/OR habitats that have severely declined in extent nationally

IPA assessment rationale

The Rwenzori Mountains qualify as an IPA under all three IPA categories A, B and C. The presence of 22 threatened species, three Endangered and 19 Vulnerable, trigger sub-criterion A(i), while the presence of four highly restricted endemics and two range restricted endemics, currently unassessed for the IUCN Red List or assessed as Data Deficient, trigger A(iii) and A(iv) respectively. Criterion B(ii) is triggered by the exceptional botanical richness in endemic and range restricted taxa. Twenty-nine taxa are endemic or range restricted, representing 16% of the national list. Finally, criterion C(iii) is triggered by the presence of a nationally threatened habitat, Afromontane rainforest, for which the Rwenzori Mountains represents the largest area nationally.

Site description

The Rwenzori (or Ruwenzori) Mountains IPA covers the Rwenzori Mountains National Park and North Rwenzori Central Forest Reserve within the Ugandan part of the mountain range. The Rwenzori mountains form part of the international border with D.R. Congo and the peaks of five of the six mountains fall on the Ugandan side with the highest, Mount Stanley which reaches 5,109 m in altitude, representing the highest mountain in Uganda and the third highest in Africa. On the eastern side, the mountain rise gradually from the high Ugandan plateau, while in the west and northwest the mountains decline steeply towards Semuliki National Park. The IPA is of national and global importance, covering over 4000 m in altitude, including a range of nationally rare habitats, high levels of species endemism and one of only three glaciers present in Africa. Although of lower biodiversity value than Rwenzori Mountains National Park, North Rwenzori Central Forest Reserve is included within this IPA to provide the potential for a conservation corridor with Semuliki National Park.

Botanical significance

The Rwenzori Mountains fall within the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. Isolated within this archipelago-like hotspot, the site displays high levels of endemism – 22 Rwenzori endemics are known from within this IPA. There is notable diversity within Asteraceae, including four Senecio taxa and Dendrosenecio adnivalis which comprises two subspecies, one of which has two varieties, all endemic to this mountain range. There are also four herbaceous species of Alchemilla, in the Rosaceae family, endemic to these mountains. While there are several cross-border endemics, some species are known at present from only the Ugandan side of the border including the sedge Isolepis Rwenzoriensis and the herbaceous perennial Cardamine jonsellia, both of which are only known from their type specimen, alongside Senecio x pirottae, a hybrid of S. mattirolii and S. transmarinus, which is known from several collections around the Kitandara Lakes. A possible fourth taxon only known from the Ugandan side of the mountains, Asplenium sp. “D586”, is unresolved but may well represent an undescribed species (Beentje, 2008).
Although generally, narrow-range endemic species tend towards higher risk of extinction (Leão et al., 2023), many of the Rwenzori endemics are assessed as Least Concern, particularly those at higher altitudes which are less at risk from anthropogenic threats such as fire and timber harvesting. There is particular diversity within the high altitude Afroalpine zone where many of the Rwenzori endemics reside. However, these narrow range endemics may be at risk of climate change (see “conservation issues”), and further research into how range restricted species will be impacted by climate change would enable more accurate assessment for the IUCN Red List and may result in some of these species being recategorised as threatened with extinction.
There are currently 22 threatened taxa recorded from this IPA, three of which are Endangered and 19 Vulnerable. Common threats include habitat conversion and disturbance at other localities outside protected areas. While lower altitudes within the National Park still show some level of threat, much of this IPA is secure and is important for the conservation of many of these threatened species. Afroligusticum elliotii (EN), for instance, is threatened at several unprotected localities, including Rutshuru in the D.R. Congo where this species is threatened by coltan mining, and therefore the Rwenzori IPA is critical for preventing the extinction of this species (Amani et al., 2022).
Alongside threatened species, this IPA is the most important site for the nationally Endangered habitat, Afromontane rainforest, large areas of which has been lost in Uganda, particularly in the Albertine Rift (Richards et al., In review). In addition, the high montane and Afroalpine habitats, including the ericaceous zone, Alchemilla zones and Dendrosenecio woodlands, are nationally rare and highly isolated from similar habitats, such as those on Mount Elgon and the higher peaks of the Virunga Volcanos, and as a result represent unique communities where Rwenzori endemics such as Dendrosenecio adnivalis and Alchemilla subnivalis dominate habitats (Linder & Gehrke, 2005).
While much of the diversity within the site lies in the Rwenzori National Park, the Rwenzori North CFR provides an important habitat corridor between this National Park and Semuliki National Park at lower elevations. The site is more degraded than the neighbouring national parks, however, it has not yet been extensively surveyed and may well share plant species with these sites, or may have the capacity to do so if restored, and could help support increasing resilience by providing a conservation corridor (NFA, 2012).

Habitat and geology

The Rwenzori Mountains are unique among the high mountains of East Africa, which are of volcanic origin, as they are derived from an uplift of Precambrian basement rocks of granites, gneisses and amphibolites (Eggermont et al., 2009; Howard, 1991). Temperatures reach as low as -5°C in the nival zone and there is rainfall on the mountain most days, even in the dry season, with between 2,000 – 3,000 mm falling annually depending on altitude, making it one of the wettest places in Uganda (Howard, 1991).
Covering a wide range of altitudes, there is a gradient of different habitats within this IPA. The lowest areas fall within North Rwenzori CFR and have been categorised as a bushland and grassland mosaic with common tree species including Acacia hockii, Bridelia scleroneura and Combretum guenzii (NFA, 2012). Soils here are brown, gritty clay-loams, but at higher altitudes within this IPA are peaty-loams or peat of varying depths (Howard, 1991). From around 2,000 m, although often only beginning at the national park boundary, is a band of Afromontane rainforest dominated by Albizia spp., Dombeya spp., Olea spp., Podocarpus milanjianus, Prunus africana and Symphonia globulifera (Eggermont et al., 2009). This is the largest extent of Afromontane forest, which is nationally Endangered, in Uganda. In areas of disturbance, including landslides, the forest is replaced by open, low scrub (Lwanga, 1996). From around 2,500 m, these mixed Afromontane forests transition to bamboo forests, dominated by Oldeania alpina and featuring the Endangered species Mimulopsis elliotii. Langdale-Brown et al. (1964) describe the bamboo forest in a mosaic with Hagenia abyssinica and Rapanea rhododendroides (= Myrsine melanophloeos) forest. Above this zone is the Ericaceous heath characterised by species such as Erica arborea, E. kingaensis, Hypericum bequaertii, H. revolutum and epiphytic Usnea lichens (Eggermont et al., 2009; Lwanga, 1996). The ericaceous zone is important for range restricted species, including the Rwenzori endemic tree fern, Gymnosphaera mildbraedii (EN).
Above approximately 3,500 m is the alpine zone, consisting of a mosaic of habitats up to around 4,500 m where lichen covered rocks dominate non-glacial areas (Eggermont et al., 2009). These include upland bogs which are dominated by Carex runssorensis and, although this species is known from both the Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon in Uganda, these bogs are much more expansive within the Rwenzori (CUPTD Workshop, 2023) and include endemics to this mountain range such as the sedges Carpha eminii (VU), Isolepis graminoides and I. Rwenzoriensis (LC). The charismatic giant lobelias, including Lobelia stuhlmannii and L. wollastonii, also occur within these bogs. At these altitudes there are also a number of alpine lakes bordered by C. runssorensis (Eggermont et al., 2009). In areas of better drainage are open Alchemilla carpets. Below 4,000 m, A. argyrophylla dominates but above this, the Rwenzori endemic A. subnivalis dominates alongside A. triphylla and A. stuhlmannii which are both also known only from these mountains (Linder & Gehrke, 2005). Within ravines and other sheltered sites, Dendrosenecio or “giant senecio” woodland dominates. This rare habitat is dominated by the Rwenzori endemic Dendrosenecio adnivalis, alongside D. erici-rosenii, Arabis alpina, and Senecio transmarinus on drier slopes; two varieties of the lattermost species are Rwenzori endemics, while another endemic to these mountains, Senecio mattirolii, is found on scree slopes within the alpine zone (Linder & Gehrke, 2005).

Conservation issues

The Rwenzori Mountains IPA consists of two protected areas: North Rwenzori Central Forest Reserve (NRCFR), an L-shaped area of around 35 km2 on the northern spur of the mountains first designated in 1940, and Rwenzori Mountains National Park (RMNP), first designated as a forest reserve in 1941 to include all areas above 2,100 m and subsequently upgraded to national park status in 1994 (Howard, 1991; UNEP-WCMC and IUCN, 2019). Across the border with D.R. Congo, RMNP is contiguous with Virunga National Park, while NRCFR meets Semuliki National Park at the base of the mountain in the Sempaya area.
NRCFR shows some agricultural encroachment, which occurred most recently during political upheaval in the region in the late 1990s and early 2000s, while grazing still continues within the site (NFA, 2012). Contrastingly, RMNP has a hard border with the surrounding agricultural landscape, demonstrating effective exclusion of these activities. Both sites are, however, threatened by timber extraction, fires and charcoal production, although this will only impact lower altitudes of the RMNP. Bamboo poles from the Oldeania alpina forests in RMNP are also extracted for construction. The area surrounding the IPA is one of the most densely populated rural areas nationally and, with populations increasing over recent years, pressure on the reserve has increased (Eilu, 2013; UWA, 2016). While many of the rare and endemic species are found at higher altitudes and are, as a result, not threatened with extinction, the lower altitude, and therefore more at risk, mixed montane and bamboo forest are important for conservation of all four of the Endangered species known from this site (see Botanical significance).
In addition to habitat disturbance and conversion, climate change and rising air temperatures present an imminent threat to the alpine environments of the Rwenzori Mountains. The glaciers at the highest altitudes have receded rapidly over the last century. Photographic evidence suggests that a decline began in at least the 1950s (Eilu et al., 2013). More recently, glacial extent receded from 2.01 ± 0.56 km2 in 1987 to 0.96 ± 0.34 km2 in 2003 and they are predicted to vanish completely within the next decade (Taylor et al., 2006). Glaciers are important sources of water, feeding streams and lakes in the mountains, and while the increased melt will initially increase water supply, this will decrease in time and potentially impact hydrology lower down the mountain (Eilu et al., 2013). An upward shift in Senecio, Helichrysum and Erica species has been reported in areas where de-glaciation has occurred (Oyana & Nakileza, 2016). In the long term, rising temperatures will likely pose a significant threat to the Afroalpine endemics of the Rwenzori. In the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, also within the East Afroalpine biodiversity hotspot, modelling suggests that even in a 2°C warming scenario, the upper limit targeted by the Paris Climate Agreement, species dependent on the very cool temperatures around the plateau would be unable to tolerate warmer conditions caused by climate change and, with no remaining habitat left, face extinction (Kidane et al., 2019). More heat tolerant Erica spp., currently at the lower limit of the Afroalpine region, are predicted to colonise the highest altitudes of the Bale Mountains, the ecological impacts of which remain unknown. We may expect similar ecological changes and extinctions in the Rwenzori with rising global temperatures. More research and monitoring is required to understand the impacts of rising temperatures and to fully assess the future threat to the Rwenzori alpine endemics.
While global action on climate change is needed to prevent such extinctions, the two protected areas are working to minimise threats posed by local anthropogenic disturbance. In RMNP, there is a 1 km area along the Uganda-side boundaries designated as a collaborative resource use zone, where regulated resource use is allowed with a valid permit (UWA, 2016). In addition, 21.5 ha of Pinus caribaea was planted in NRCFR as part of plans to reforest grassland areas within this forest reserve with productive forests, including non-native species P. caribaea and Eucalyptus grandis on slopes and native species such as Prunus africana and Terminalia brownii (NFA, 2012). Valley bottoms will be planted with native species only. Reforestation of these cleared slopes will likely stabilise soils and the small area (150 ha) designated for community use could help ease pressure on natural forests. However, harvesting of trees should be ecologically sensitive to ensure that natural forest is not impacted, while the loss of agricultural land may cause conflict with local communities and could increase pressure on land and resources if alternative livelihoods are not provided.
While the management of NRCFR largely focusses on productive forests, management of RMNP is instead focused on biodiversity conservation. Provision of habitat for “rare, endangered and endemic plant and animal species” is one of the key values identified within the management plan. However, only a limited number of range-restricted and endemic plants have been identified within this plan. There are several species with ranges under 10,000 km2, many of which are endemic to the Rwenzori, that are not included within the report annex, while two species were wrongly recognized as Rwenzori endemics (Hypericum bequaertii, which is also known from Mount Elgon, and Schefflera polysciadia which is now under the name Astropanax polysciadus, a species that is from several countries in central and east Africa). The recognition of this site as an Important Plant Area is therefore a positive step in refocusing efforts towards priority plant species and improving their conservation at the site.
As well as importance for plant species, the RMNP has been designated a Key Biodiversity Area based on the presence of several threatened and geographically restricted animals alongside qualifying plant species. Rwenzori Red Duiker (Cephalophus nigrifrons subsp. rubidus), Montane Mouse Shrew (Myosorex blarina) and Montane Shaggy Rat (Dasymys montanus) are three Endangered mammal species endemic to the Rwenzori mountains (Plumptre et al., 2019). The site has also been recognised as an Important Bird Area, as one of the richest sites for Albertine Rift endemic birds in the IBA network of Uganda, and a UNESCO World Heritage site for containing “superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance” and “the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity” (BirdLife International, 2023; UNESCO, 2023). In addition, the presence of upland bogs associated with rare plant species such as Helichrysum stuhlmanni and Carex runssoroensis contributes to the designation of this site as a Ramsar site (UWA & Ministry of Water and Environment, 2008). The designation of this site as an IPA further bolsters the Rwenzori Mountain’s status as a site of global significance for conservation.

Ecosystem services

The Rwenzori Mountains provide a wide range of important ecosystem services. The most critical of which is their role as one of the largest water catchment areas in Uganda. Rivers originating on the mountain, including Mubuku, Lamia, Semuliki and Mpanga, supply over one million people and feed Lakes Albert, Edward and George. The rivers play a key role in crop growth, including the sought-after Rwenzori or Bukonzo coffee grown on the lower slopes of the mountain, irrigation, and generation of hydroelectric power, while the lakes are important fisheries supporting livelihoods in communities throughout western Uganda (Eilu, 2013; Lwanga, 1996).
Both RMNP and NRCFR have multiple usage areas to allow for activities such as collecting of firewood, medicinal plants, bamboo poles, and honey, while community forestry is also permitted within a small area of NRCFR.
The mountains have significant tourism appeal. Around 2,000 – 3,000 people visit each year, which does help support livelihoods and conservation, but is significantly lower than the number of visitors to comparable sites, representing around 10% of total annual visitors to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (IUCN, 2020; Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, 2019). The Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Tourism Board and WWF Uganda are working together to increase this number and increase revenue for communities and conservation.
There are also a number of culturally significant sites within the IPA for the Bakonzo and Baamba communities that live in and around the mountains. Individuals visit areas within RMNP to perform spiritual rituals to bring good fortune (Eilu, 2013).

Site assessor(s)

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
Mimulopsis elliotii C.B.Clarke A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Mimulopsis excellens Lindau A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Brachystephanus glaberrimus Champl. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Afroligusticum elliotii (Engl.) C.Norman A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Afroligusticum runssoricum (Engl.) P.J.D.Winter A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Dracaena subtilis (N.E.Br.) Byng & Christenh. A(iii) True True True False False Unknown
Asplenium ruwenzoriense Baker A(iii) True True True True False Unknown
Senecio transmarinus S.Moore var. major C.Jeffrey A(iii) True True True True False Unknown
Senecio transmarinus S.Moore var. sycephalus (S.Moore) Hedberg A(iv) True True True False False Unknown
Helichrysum mildbraedii Moeser A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Bothriocline ruwenzoriensis (S.Moore) C.Jeffrey A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Impatiens mildbraedii Gilg A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Gymnosphaera mildbraedii (Brause) S.Y.Dong A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Faroa graveolens Baker A(i) False False False False False Unknown
Carpha eminii (K.Schum.) C.B.Clarke A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Leucas alluaudii Sacteux A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Crotalaria adenocarpoides Taub. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Englerina schubotziana (Engl. & K.Krause) Polhill & Wiens A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Tridactyle virgula (Kraenzl.) Schltr. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Rhipidoglossum bilobatum (Summerh.) Szlach. & Olszewski A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Polystachya nyanzensis Rendle A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Polystachya woosnamii Rendle var. woosnamii A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Bulbophyllum vulcanicum Kraenzl. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Deschampsia angusta Stapf & C.E.Hubb. A(i) True True True False False Frequent
Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman A(i) False False True False False Frequent
Rytigynia ruwenzoriensis (De Wild.) Robyns A(i) True True True False False Frequent
Dendrosenecio adnivalis subsp. adnivalis var. adnivalis A(iv) True True True False False Unknown
Dendrosenecio adnivalis subsp. adnivalis var. petiolatus A(iii) True True True False False Unknown

Mimulopsis elliotii C.B.Clarke

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

Mimulopsis excellens Lindau

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

Brachystephanus glaberrimus Champl.

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

Afroligusticum elliotii (Engl.) C.Norman

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

Afroligusticum runssoricum (Engl.) P.J.D.Winter

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

Dracaena subtilis (N.E.Br.) Byng & Christenh.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 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

Asplenium ruwenzoriense Baker

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 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:
Unknown

Senecio transmarinus S.Moore var. major C.Jeffrey

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 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:
Unknown

Senecio transmarinus S.Moore var. sycephalus (S.Moore) Hedberg

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iv)
≥ 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

Helichrysum mildbraedii Moeser

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

Bothriocline ruwenzoriensis (S.Moore) C.Jeffrey

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

Impatiens mildbraedii Gilg

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

Gymnosphaera mildbraedii (Brause) S.Y.Dong

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

Faroa graveolens Baker

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:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Carpha eminii (K.Schum.) C.B.Clarke

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

Leucas alluaudii Sacteux

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

Crotalaria adenocarpoides Taub.

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

Englerina schubotziana (Engl. & K.Krause) Polhill & Wiens

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

Tridactyle virgula (Kraenzl.) Schltr.

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

Rhipidoglossum bilobatum (Summerh.) Szlach. & Olszewski

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

Polystachya nyanzensis Rendle

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

Polystachya woosnamii Rendle var. woosnamii

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

Bulbophyllum vulcanicum Kraenzl.

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

Deschampsia angusta Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

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:
Frequent

Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman

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

Rytigynia ruwenzoriensis (De Wild.) Robyns

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:
Frequent

Dendrosenecio adnivalis subsp. adnivalis var. adnivalis

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iv)
≥ 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

Dendrosenecio adnivalis subsp. adnivalis var. petiolatus

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 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 Montane Forest No value Major
Savanna - Moist Savanna No value Minor
Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Shrubland No value Major
Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Grassland No value Major
Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools [under 8 ha] No value Minor
Rocky Areas - Rocky Areas [e.g. inland cliffs, mountain peaks] No value Major

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Shrubland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude Grassland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools [under 8 ha]

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

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

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 Minor
Tourism / Recreation No value Minor
Forestry No value Minor
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:
Minor

Tourism / Recreation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Forestry

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Harvesting of wild resources

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Human intrusions & disturbance - War, civil unrest & military exercises Medium Past, not likely to return
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Low Ongoing - stable
Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Low Ongoing - stable
Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants Low Ongoing - stable
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases - Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases Medium Ongoing - increasing
Climate change & severe weather - Habitat shifting & alteration High Ongoing - increasing
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Medium Ongoing - trend unknown

Human intrusions & disturbance - War, civil unrest & military exercises

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Past, not likely to return

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

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

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

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - stable

Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases - Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Climate change & severe weather - Habitat shifting & alteration

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

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

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Rwenzori Mountains National Park National Park IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 996
North Rwenzori Central Forest Reserve Forest Reserve (production) IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 35

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Protected area type:
National Park
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
996

North Rwenzori Central Forest Reserve

Protected area type:
Forest Reserve (production)
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
35

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Rwenzori Mountains Ramsar protected/conservation area encompasses IPA 995
Rwenzori Mountains National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site protected/conservation area encompasses IPA 995
Ruwenzori Mountains National Park Alliance for Zero Extinction Site protected/conservation area encompasses IPA 995
Ruwenzori (Rwenzori) Mountains National Park Important Bird Area IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 995
Ruwenzori Mountains National Park Key Biodiversity Area IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 995

Rwenzori Mountains

Protected area:
Ramsar
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
995

Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Protected area:
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
995

Ruwenzori Mountains National Park

Protected area:
Alliance for Zero Extinction Site
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
995

Ruwenzori (Rwenzori) Mountains National Park

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
995

Ruwenzori Mountains National Park

Protected area:
Key Biodiversity Area
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
995

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
Site management plan in place Rwenzori Mountains National Park General Management Plan 2016-2025 2016 2025

Site management plan in place

Rwenzori Mountains National Park General Management Plan 2016-2025
Year started:
2016
Year finished:
2025

Bibliography

Protected Planet, 2020

Protected Areas (WDPA)

Available online

Howard, P. C., 1991

Nature Conservation in Uganda’s Tropical Forest Reserves

Plumptre, A. J., Ayebare, S., Behangana, M., Forrest, T. G., Hatanga, P., Kabuye, C., Kirunda, B., Kityo, R., Mugabe, H., Namaganda, M., Nampindo, S., Nangendo, G., Nkuutu, D. N., Pomeroy, D., Tushabe, H. & Prinsloo, S., 2019

Conservation of vertebrates and plants in Uganda: Identifying Key Biodiversity Areas and other sites of national importance

Conservation Science and Practice, Vol 1, page(s) 1-12 Available online

Langdale-Brown, I., Osmaston, H. A., & Wilson, J. G., 1964

The Vegetation of Uganda and its Bearing on Land-Use

CUPTD Workshop, 2023

Conservation of Uganda’s Plant and Tree Diversity Workshop, Makerere University, Kampala, 7-10 February 2023 [unpubl. communications]

Amani, C., Kalema, J., Nshutiyayesu, S. & Ntore, S., 2022

Afroligusticum elliotii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T154235483A154387851

Available online

Beentje, H., 2008

Aspleniaceae

Flora of Tropical East Africa

BirdLife International, 2023

Important Bird Area factsheet: Ruwenzori (Rwenzori) Mountains National Park

Available online

Eggermont, H., Van Damme, K. & Russell, J. M., 2009

Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon): Headwaters of the White Nile

The Nile Available online

Eilu, G., 2013

Saving the Rwenzori

Miti, Vol April-June Available online

Eilu, G., Galabuzi, C., Waiswa, D. & Mwavu, E. N., 2013

Impact of Climate Change on the Species of Restricted Range in Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Available online

Lwanga, J., 1996

Rwenzori Mountains National Park Biodiversity Report

Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, 2019

Rwenzori Mountains National Park Tourism Business Plan 2019/20 - 2023/24

NFA, 2012

Forest management plant for North Ruwenzori Central Forest Reserve 2012-2037

Oyana, T.J., & Nakileza, B.R., 2016

Assessing adaptability and response of vegetation to glacier recession in the afro-alpine moorland terrestrial ecosystem of Rwenzori Mountains

Journal of Mountain Science, Vol 13, page(s) 1584-1597 Available online

Taylor, R. G., Mileham, L., Tindimugaya, C., Majugu, A., Muwanga, A., & Nakileza, B., 2006

Recent glacial recession in the Rwenzori Mountains of East Africa due to rising air temperature

Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 33 Available online

UNESCO, 2023

Rwenzori Mountains National Park - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Available online

UWA, 2016

Rwenzori Mountains National Park General Management Plan 2016-2025

UWA, & Ministry of Water and Environment, 2008

Rwenzori Mountains Ramsar Site Information Sheet

Available online

IUCN, 2020

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - 2020 Conservation Outlook Assessment

Available online

,

Dead end for endemic plant species? A biodiversity hotspot under pressure

Global Ecology and Conservation, Vol 19 Available online

Leão, T. C. C., Reich, P. B., & Nic Lughadha, E., 2023

The geographic range size and vulnerability to extinction of angiosperm epiphytes in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil

Available online

Linder, P. H., & Gehrke, B., 2005

Common plants of the Rwenzori, particularly the upper zones

Available online

Recommended citation

(2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Rwenzori Mountains (Uganda). https://tipas.kew.org/site/rwenzori-mountains/ (Accessed on 27/05/2024)