Preservation and development working hand in hand

Eye-catching pillars delineate the protected zone. (c) JESE

Uganda – Establishing buffer zones as a protective barrier between human activities and fragile habitats is proving to be a successful approach in Mpanga Gorge in Uganda’s Kitagwenda District.

As is well known, this zone consists of diverse habitats such as forests, streams and unique fauna and flora. However, rapid population growth and increased human activities threatened this fragile ecosystem, resulting in potentially irreversible damage. The community, the local government and the organizations Join For Water and JESE therefore launched a joint effort.

This project aimed to create a balance between human needs and ecological preservation, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Mpanga Gorge.

The first step was to define and establish a buffer zone around the Mpanga Gorge. In consultation with local communities, we came to a consensus on its boundaries.

The zone is delineated with concrete pillars. This buffer zone now forms a shield against harmful human activities, such as deforestation, illegal fishing and slash and burn of the endangered plant “Mpanga Falls Cycads”.

Enforcement and awareness

To respect the buffer zone, monitoring and enforcement are needed. Regular patrols and community-based initiatives prevent encroachment and deter potential violators.

Various capacity-building programs were conducted to educate community members on the value of a healthy ecosystem and the benefits of buffer zone protection. This inclusive approach ensured that local residents understood the relevance of their active participation.


In addition to environmental benefits, the establishment of the buffer zone also brought about positive socio-economic impacts. By tapping into the region’s natural beauty, visitors have been and continue to be attracted to explore the gorge while contributing to the local economy.

This successful integration of conservation and development showcased a win-win situation in similar regions facing similar challenges.


Original text: Tusiime Lawrence & Christopher Busiinge (JESE)

With financial support from:

Provincie Vlaams Brabant