Nyamuriro Wetlands Conservation Project

Status: An Important Bird Area (IBA)

Location: Kabale district in south western Uganda

Altitude: 1930 metres above sea level

Size: 27.9 km²

Conservation Interventions

NatureUganda in partnership with Wetlands Management Department (WMD) is supporting the Masaka Youth Development Organization, a community-based organization, to develop and provide eco-tourism services. Communities and schools have been empowered through education for sustainable development programmes. This initiative is intended to provide motivation to wetland edge communities to participate in the management and conservation of Nabajjuzi wetland. Other initiatives include the support to Masaka Municipality and local communities to develop and implement a Community-based Management Plan for Nabajjuzi Wetland. The plan has been completed with the full participation of the local community and Masaka local government staff. Highlights of the management plan include eco-tourism development, fish farming, tree planting and wetland edge gardening.

NatureUganda has also implemented research and educational activities in Nabajjuzi wetland. From the research findings, Nabajjuzi wetland system qualifies as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

High population density 350 persons per km² hence pressure on environmental resources

Soils that have lost fertility over time

Areas highly prone and consequently affected by soil erosion

Wetland degradation

Biodiversity composition:

Birds – 131 bird species with an endemic species – the Papyrus Yellow Warbler, 31 butterfly species recorded

Plant species – 208 species recorded

History: Name Nyamuriro is derived from Iyamuriro meaning a place for rain charming.
High population densities faced with reducing soil fertility resulted into encroachment on the wetland. Draining began in the 1970s by communities first practicing wetland edge gardening with vegetables then followed by intensive crop growing which went deeper into the wetland reaching complete conversion in 1998.

NatureUganda with financial support from USAID (through Prime West) embarked on conservation project in 2007. Sensitization of communities by NatureUganda and Kabale district local government started in 2007. During the consultative meetings held the following resolutions were reached:

  • Establish and empower wetland management committees
  • Undertake to demarcate and zone Nyamuriro wetland into crop areas and non crop areas
  • To gazette 50 ft buffer zone on either side of River Ruhuuma (draining in the middle of the wetland) as a “no cultivation” zone.
  • Set aside uncultivated areas on the edges of the wetland as reserves
  • Plant papyrus in the buffer area, therefore shielding the river Ruhuuma from silting and in turn reduce the speed flow
  • Establish water and soil conservation structures on the hill slopes facing the Nyamuriro wetland to reduce the rate of run offs to the wetland, and in consequence mitigating soil erosion.
  • Introduce and demonstrate with appropriate income generating activities that would replace and solve wetland over dependence.
  • Furrowing sessions in the cultivation zone to allow for nutrient replenishment and allowing for progressive withdrawal from the wetland
  • Plant trees on the severely eroded hill slopes to stop further erosion and provide fire wood and timber in future
  • Crane monitoring to be done regularly

A community based wetland management plan is in place

A vibrant wetland management committee is place at Nyamuriro wetland. They have been facilitated to initiate formation of bye laws to support sustainable use of the wetland.

11 wetland reserves in place at various wetland edges
Wetland restoration (replanting with papyrus) especially along the river Ruhuuma covering about 1 km². This is defined by demarcations with signposts that signify “No Encroachment”

Over 2.5 km² of wetland established as a result of dammed drainage channels in Ndeego – Shanjare area.
Soil and water conservation structures (trenches) commonly known as “fanya juu – fanya chini” established as demonstrations at 4 areas facing the wetland

Wetland friendly enterprises established on wetland edges. These include fish farming and bee keeping.
Establishment of wetland adjacent area based enterprises/ interventions i.e. goat keeping and fruit growing

Five pairs of cranes breeding at the wetland

Eco tourism developed for Nyamuriro wetland

NatureUganda is the Birdlife International Partner and a member of IUCN