Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) Benefits


23 Mar 2015 15 Dec 2017

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1.1 Background

Tourism Revenue Sharing (TRS) has been identified by various environmentalists and conservationists as the best way to offset human-wildlife conflict which impedes local support for national parks (Hulme & Murphree 2002). By channeling tourism revenue to local residents, conservationists hope to offset wildlife costs and improve local attitudes toward conservation. To date tourism revenue-sharing programs have met mixed success (Western 2001).This study looked at the extent to which revenue sharing policies are put into practice and look at what projects funds are distributed across, beneficiaries of revenue sharing and the criteria used to determine them and look at implications for inequality, the livelihood impacts of revenue sharing and determine whether policy makers meet their commitments and the constraints to revenue sharing around Bwindi impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

The growth in tourism industry has been one of the most profitable in national and communal economies in the Africa that were recently recognised by international and other global activists of development and environment concern. This has resulted in the need for several governments to transform from their earlier practices of managing tourist areas in conformity with the need to protect the environment and improve peoples' livelihoods. As one of the ways to protect the environment and promote tourism, several national parks officials in Uganda like in many other parts of Africa have barred people from using them freely and tourism is now regarded as a tool to promote conservation and provide people with opportunities to improve their economic situations.

Tourism in Uganda has been transformed from the traditional trend of activities based only on viewing animals to one that is ecologically oriented and at the same time benefiting the local communities around them. So-called eco-tourism therefore is an environmentally responsible form of tourism to relatively undisturbed natural areas in order to enjoy and appreciate nature, promote conservation, encourage low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of the local population (IUCN 1992). Eco-tourism aids conservation of the natural environmental heritage through sustaining the well-being of the local people through provision of revenue for planning, management, and evaluation, stimulation of economic tourism through tourist expenditures and even creation of markets for local people's products (Hulme and Murphree 2001). Local communities here, refers to the group of people living in or near the protected area and usually have to gain or lose something as a result of the distant management and access to resources in this area (FAO 1992). Living adjacent to the Park, these people often pay the highest costs in terms of the park existence or pose the greatest threat to them and receive the least benefits compared to other beneficiaries (Adams and Infield 2003) and yet, it is local communities regarded as holding values and preferences compared to state interests embedded in protected areas.

The development and success of eco-tourism put much emphasis towards winning local people's support and even maintaining positive attitude towards ecotourism and conservation. For eco-tourism to succeed there is need for collaboration and full participation of the local communities in both conservation and management of natural resources, upon which eco-tourism is based (Obua 1996). This helps to create good relationship and a sense of ownership on the side of local people. Failure to do this can be a cause for conflict and resentment between the park management and local people (Mutebi 2003).

According to Groove (1993), eco-tourism came up as a result of three basic reasons; First, dissatisfaction among tourists with the standard of mass tourism; second, the increased awareness amongst tourists of their potential impact on the host environments and the indigenous societies; and third, the love for adventure and nature by tourists.

The origin and development of ecotourism in Uganda was based on the growing awareness that protected areas were alienated from local people and had many chances to fail without local peoples' support (UWA 1996). As a result of this, there has been development of eco-tourism as a variant of conservation and revenue generation because it is believed that eco-tourism can generate revenues that may be re-invested in protected areas to facilitate conservation and improve people's livelihoods. It is argued that ecotourism helps to provide a sustainable tourism option. This is achieved through its emphasis of the areas' carrying capacity concept and the possibility of increasing the well being of people residing around these areas through sharing with them receipts from tourism, as is being done at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP)

In 1991 BINP was upgraded to National Park status. The shift from Forest Reserve to National Park had more implications than just a change in management. It also had a major impact on the surrounding communities; they were no longer allowed to enter the area. This implied that they no longer were able to utilize resources, as they had done traditionally. People who traditionally depended on forest resources for their survival in terms of energy, building materials and non-timber products for their livelihoods were denied access. The Forest Department used to allow free extraction of the non-timber products of the forest (Namara 2006).

In addition to loss of access and control over park resources, people residing adjacent to the national parks bear costs related to wildlife conservation in terms of crop and livestock raids. However, despite the losses and costs suffered by local communities to wildlife conservation, tourism revenues were being collected both at national level and on park gates without necessarily scaling down to local people (Hulme and Murphree 1999). In an effort to manage and distribute diverse natural resources, the government of Uganda embarked on policies, regulations and acts through the parliament to ensure adequate implementation and protection of natural resource use (UWA 2001).

A revenue sharing scheme was introduced in Uganda to enable local people benefit from forest resources and improve on their livelihoods. The success or failure of this policy is the core concern of this research. This study sought to investigate if the Uganda Wildlife statute of the 1996 policy implementation that requires 20% of park entry revenue to be allocated to the people residing around the park for their development benefits was achieved. According to the literature available, revenue sharing is under pressure and subject to claims from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to meet management costs in several other National Parks that earn little revenue on their own. These claims constrain adequate distribution and use of revenues to compensate for the real and perceived economic costs foregone for Park conservation among local people. This rise the concern for accountability and transparency in setting up sustainable programs needed to improve people's livelihoods. These research objectives set grounds for finding solutions to such problems.

1.2 Problem statement

Despite the growing body of literature on revenue sharing, there are still conflicting debates about the success and failures of community conservation in Uganda (Hulme and Murphree 2001). There is however, a paucity of studies on revenue sharing in Bwindi National Park, a situation that warranted research. It is equally perplexing that studies conducted about revenue sharing in various National Parks, have shown that their benefits are far less than the cost and prospective of resource use within the Parks (Hulme and Murphree 2001). This has been attributed to the fact that revenues obtained from tourism are distributed without frequent planning and understanding of social, cultural and economic contexts of areas surrounding the park.

Bwindi National Park has a protection status but local people continue to invade the park and carry out illegal activities like pit sawing and snaring to supplement their subsistence activities (Madden 1999). To solve the tension and conflicts around the Park, UWA, CARE and IGCP embarked on programs like revenue sharing, sustainable use of non-timber resources and conservation education. Hulme and Murphree (2001) reported in chapter to that funds obtained from revenue sharing were used in constructing schools, health clinics and road construction. However, it was not known whether and how revenues intended for community development through revenue sharing benefited local people. This was owed to the fact that there was uncertainty of the revenue sharing policy and practice, community and individual level of access to revenues obtained from the park, and how tourist revenues compensate and support the livelihoods and development of local people. There was thus a need to undertake this study to understand how best conservation could meet local community needs and benefit people residing along the Park in line with national policies, while protecting the environment.

1.3 Research Objectives


The goal of this study was to examine park revenue sharing and its livelihood impacts to residents around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, western Uganda.

1.3.2 Specific objectives

-To examine the extent to which revenue sharing policies are put into practice and look at what projects funds are distributed across.

-To identify beneficiaries of revenue sharing and the criteria used to determine them and look at implications for inequality.

-To assess the livelihood impacts of revenue sharing and determine whether policy makers meet their commitments.

-To identify the constraints to revenue sharing around BINP

1.4 Justification

It is believed and evidenced those good relationships between people and parks are a major element of ensuring sustainable conservation. Due to some benefits associated with people residing adjacent to national parks, community attitudes towards national parks have improved over time. According to UWA, the revenue sharing scheme aims at empowering local communities in local resource management and tends to ensure sustainability and improved rural livelihoods. As a development study student, I thoroughly scrutinised how policy impacts implemented from top government levels without the consent of local people can be a big setback in determining people's development at the local level.

The main intention was to look at which extent revenue sharing policies were put into practice. The concern was whether local people benefited from resources available in their localities; and whether these benefits related to revenue sharing. By evaluating the level of benefits obtained as a result of revenue sharing, recommendations on policies suitable for the local community were made. This research is important for both governments and non-government agencies that are involved in implementing conservation policies. This work intends to identify and look at the gaps between policy and practice, and formulated possible recommendations to ensure better sustainable livelihoods of people living around Bwindi National Park.



The chapter provides a documented review of the general concept of ecotourism as a part of environmental conservation and likens it to the livelihoods of local people. The chapter begins with the history of environmental conservation in Uganda and then links it to natural based tourism as a way of combining tourism and protecting the nature, while developing communities residing around such areas.

2.1 Background of environmental conservation and tourism revenue sharing in Uganda

In Uganda like in any other tropical areas, people residing adjacent to forested areas normally depend on forest resources for survival. Before changes restricting people's access and control over these resources were made, they solely depended on such for income, food, energy, medicine and hunting (FAO 1992). Hulme and Murphree (2001) reported that the international and national conservationists claim that forested areas are vulnerable to human activity and a threat to biodiversity. To counter this, new management policies that restrict people's access and control over these areas are thus normally established. To ensure protection and control over forest losses, major forest reserves including Bwindi were turned into National Parks and put under a single management unit Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) (Archabald and Naughton 2001),

Tourism revenue sharing is not a new idea in Uganda. As early as 1950's, the Chief Game Warden declared: African Local Governments should receive a portion of the revenue accruing from game license fees to increase their interest in faunal matters, and thus encourage them to render greater assistance in the preservation of game and the enforcing of game laws (Archabald and Naughton 2002), This encouraged more reserach in revenue sharing

Studies in revenue-sharing started early in 1952 and sustained until Independence in 1962. In general, a part of revenue from tourism fees was given to districts.

No attempt was made to channel revenue directly to residents neighboring the park. However the Game Department shot wildlife caught raiding farms and offered local citizens the game meat (Naughton-Treves 1999). They further argued that no official facts that linked revenue sharing payment agreements to local communities with conservation policies

While there are reports of local chiefs apprehending poachers, other chiefs and kings continued to hunt wildlife illegally despite revenue-sharing programs. One warden concluded that ‘A far greater awareness of the value of game animals has been shown by the Kingdom Governments and District Administrations, but on the whole they have not made any significant effort to stamp out poaching' (Tennant 1963, p.33). Revenue-sharing projects continued after Uganda's independence, but in 1971 the country plunged into a 15-year civil war and the government lost control of wildlife and parks entirely (Hamilton 1984). With peace in 1987, Ugandan civil society began to be rebuilt. Eventually the national government endorsed biodiversity conservation and began shoring up the national park system and ‘upgrading' several forest reserves to national parks (Sebukeera 1996).

Due to the increased pressure by International donors and other non government organizations the government of Uganda recognized the importance of community-based approaches to national tourism revenue-sharing and adopted a new park policy in 1994.

To check the viability of the new policy, a pilot project was established in Bwndi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, in which 20% of revenue/income from gorilla tracking permits would be distributed to local communities residing near the park.

Local communities welcomed the pilot project optimistically and it ran efficiently. Uganda National Parks (UNP) regulated that all the parks in the country set aside 12% of their total income for revenue sharing (Uganda National Parks 1994)

Two-thirds of tourism revenue was to be shared with local communities neighboring the park, while the remaining third was to be divided between the park's home district government and a central pool at national park headquarters designated for communities surrounding those parks that generated very little income.

The 1994 national mandate to share park revenue offered only a vague definition of the target beneficiaries as those people living adjacent the parks that are affected by, and affect the park (Uganda National Parks, 1994). Park level managers defined the target community as all parishes neighboring the park, a definition that emphasizes proximity to the park and pre-existing administrative units. In Uganda, parishes are subdivisions of districts governed by local elected leaders. They border three parks involved in the study extending up to 3 km from the park border in Mgahinga, 7 km in Bwindi, and 8 km in Kibale (UWA 2001).

According to Archabald and Naughton (2001), the 1994 revenue sharing policy mandated Park Management Advisory committee (PMAC) with the responsibility to administer tourism revenue-sharing funds for each specific park.

Although it was not specified in the national policy mandate, the park management committee decided to elect Parish Park Committee (PPC) representing to represent each parish in all the three study sites, to work as a link between local communities and Park Management advisory committee (PMAC). The 1994 tourism revenue sharing policy required that collected funds be used to benefit projects that would serve to improve high number of people's livelihoods. However, this policy had to change prematurely after the Ugandan legislation merged Uganda National Parks and the Game Department into the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in 1996 (Archabald and Naughton 2001).

The newly amended legislation set a change in revenue sharing policy from that of 1994, which included 12% share of all income obtained from the park, to 20% of fees obtained at each park (UWA 1996). Policy makers hoped the increase in tourism revenue-sharing would result into improved livelihoods and park popularity to local communities (Baliikowa 2008, Archabald and Naughton 2001). The change in TRS policy theoretically intended to increase the amount of money distributed to local communities as an alternative forgone for their free interaction with the park.

The policy change and change in management from Park Management Authority Committee to a local parish level committee weakened institutional sustainability for TRS and made the 1996 tourism revenue-sharing policy given less priority and the policy saw a decrease in funds due to the exclusion of fees for viewing gorillas and chimpanzee (UWA 2001). According to Archabald and Naughton (2001) TRS scheme process was still bared with irregularities. Revenues generated under the 1994 mandate were later redistributed to local communities in 1998, four years after policy implementation. This slip in redistributing tourism revenue share continued until 2002 when UWA passed out another policy that started to be implemented in 2001 (UWA 2001).

2.2 Ecotourism

Tourism is an ancient activity that has become so diverse in its objectives and setting that it is now broken into a variety of sectors of which one of the most and rapidly growing sectors is that of nature based tourism. Obua (1996) referred nature-based tourism to that is directly dependent on the use of natural resources in a relatively undisturbed state. This is contrary to mass tourism whose development in natural areas has often led to the degradation of the very features that first attracted the tourists to the area.

Owing to the above, a new concept was developed with an environmentally responsible approach called sustainable tourism. WTO (1993) defined sustainable tourism as any activity managed in a way that enables it to continue indefinitely. As a sustainable program, ecotourism is the fastest growing segment of the nature based tourism sector.

2.2.1 Ecotourism and the local people

To be sustainable, ecotourism must involve local people in its planning, development and management (Obua, 1996). Cater (1994) highlighted that tourism can encourage better basic services such as water and electricity; and also create jobs for local people, increase their income levels and support other social and environmental benefits. Cater further stresses that to link sustainable tourism to economic development, its benefits must have an impact on the livelihoods of indigenous communities to warrant improved management of their environment. Cater further notes that, not only should the local, people receive tangible benefits from ecotourism development but their education and, sensitisation on the importance of conservation is of paramount importance.

Dueto the fact that most of the remaining natural forests are under the control of the government in Uganda, ecotourism offers local communities opportunities to become more involved in the management of their village forests and see material benefits coming from them. Rea1isation of the benefits from the parks by local people is often accompanied by a decline in deforestation and poaching (Obua, 1996). This has made ecotourism show potential to provide a practical and effective means of providing social and economic benefits to the local people. Obua (1996) notes that, education levels and income influence local people's attitudes towards ecotourism. This is because education increases ones awareness of the importance of protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources and determine the extent to which the local people depend on protected area for their livelihood. If provision of such services is not properly implemented however, the local people may harm the conservation goals. This therefore stresses a need for continual monitoring of development programs targeting people surrounding the park.

2.2.2 The success of ecotourism

The success of the management of protected areas greatly depends on the degree of support and respect accorded the neighbouring communities. Where protected areas are looked at as a burden, local people can make protection and conservation completely impossible. However, when tourism is seen as a positive development, local communities would combine their efforts together with park management in providing protection to the area from external forces and destruction mostly by the locals. Involving local people is a vital factor in reducing infringements of conservation regulations such as poaching and indiscriminate tree felling. Due to corruption however, conflicts develop owing to non-equitable sharing of benefits offered by conservation bodies and the conservation area itself. This physical exclusion from the very resources upon which they depend for their basic needs threatens to ecotourism development (Laudati 2007).

It is important to note that there have to be economic incentives for conservation. A major incentive is to secure, restore, and develop the capacity of ecosystems to generate ecosystem services (including food, timber, pollination, seed dispersal) because this capacity constitutes the very foundation for social and economic development (Daily 1997). Conservation science has a major role to play in identifying the role of functional groups of organisms, their redundancy, and their response diversity in relation to ecosystem services and in recommending ways to sustain diversity in this context.

2.2.3 Impacts associated with ecotourism development

The viability of ecotourism has received substantial attention among conservationists as a potential tool for sustainable development Debates about Uncontrolled and controlled or restricted tourism has raised a lot of controversy among scholars. The majority of the literature supports the concept behind ecotourism; however, even the supporters like Cater (1994) express caution over the hidden risks inherent to any nature based tourism activity. The potentially negative impacts from tourism have a number of faces. Uncontrolled tourism may lead to ecological disturbances and environmental degradation; create unwanted social and drastic economic impacts as well.

The restrictions meant loss of forest resources and land which was once used by locals for agriculture to maintain their livelihoods. Crop raiding is another problem faced by people living around parks. Despite restrictions and damages done on their crops, efforts to compensate local people who depended on forest resources especially land were insufficient (Balikoowa 2007). This has resulted into increased poverty among local people and there is an urgent need among stakeholders and the Uganda Wild life authority to solve this problem.

Alternatively, ecotourism has the potential to positively contribute to the development of an area. However, in order for this potential to be realised, a number of conditions must be fulfilled. These include; the regional market, management capacity, ecological and cultural attractions development, adequate infrastructure, access and security, and well-defined linkages between the local residents and conservation activities (Cater, 1994). Whereas some of the conditions are out of control of most tourism stakeholders, certain conditions can be achieved through active management. In the absence of active management, the true ecotourism potential in any given area will not be realised, and it is highly probable that negative impacts will occur.

The concept of ecotourism in conservation helps to ensure deliberate and planned policies geared towards reducing the negative impacts of tourism activities on the environment. This is done by minimising impacts in one place by developing new attractions or activities for tourism in different places. Ecotourism here therefore encourages diversification necessary for development.

As a form of integrated tourism where all stakeholders are involved (operators in the industry, conservationists, lawmakers, and local people), it encourages cooperation, planning and support for sustainable development. Ecotourism offers the local people the opportunity to improve their livelihood through the various economic activities that are developed and to participate in nature conservation or environmental management.

The need for ecotourism development in Uganda has resulted into the initiation of the revenue sharing program. This implies that 20 percent of the profits from park entry fees are given to the communities. Each parish adjacent to the park boundaries is given a share of the money. The money used to be invested in infrastructure benefiting the whole parish, such as schools and feeder roads. It appeared that this strategy did not have the impact UWA was looking for, a big part of the communities did not link these improvements with the National Park. The strategy of UWA therefore changed, they start focusing on directly improving the situation on household level, for instance by buying goats for the villagers (UWA, 2002).

In relation to the above, in order to improve the relation between the local communities and the Park Authorities, people are allowed to gather products from the forest in some areas of the park; this can be done in the so called Multiple Use Zones (MUZ). The products that can be extracted in these zones are medicinal plants, craft materials and seed collection for on-farm planting outside the park. The products that can be extracted are all listed, at this moment 36 species of medical plants and 21 species for basketry purposes are listed. In addition, some farmers are allowed to use the park for placement of beehives for honey collection (Plumptre, Kayitare et al. 2004). These MUZ are not accessible for all surrounding communities, only those communities who have signed a MoU can access the park, these are at the moment the communities in fifteen out of twenty parishes bordering the Bwindi.

2.2.4 Community participation and ecotourism development

Cater (1994) defined community participation as a situation where people act in groups to influence the direction and outcome of development programs that will affect them. Agencies promoting any community participation program need to deal with organised entities with conventional procedures for making and implementing group decisions. Cater (1994) further notes that much as generating such an entity is hard, working with existing authorities may not be reaching all of the target beneficiaries or all those whose cooperation is essential to the project. Kiss (1991) stressed that local participation towards the development of an ecotourism project involves all people who are directly affected by wildlife from the protected area or have an effect on it. According to Ziffer (1989), increased local people's involvement in conservation results into low negative impacts on the environment where as low involvement yields high negative impacts by the local people.

2.3 The UWA Revenue Sharing Scheme

In an effort to compensate and sustain people residing in areas adjacent to the parks, conservationists and Uganda Wildlife Authority recognize the need for programs that would benefit local communities who affect and are affected by protection policy of the forested areas. Uganda national parks adopted a revenue sharing policy in November 1995 and the government of Uganda passed a legislation under Uganda Wildlife Statute of 1996, which under section 70 (4) stated that the board shall subject to subsection 3 of section 23 pay 20% of the park entry fee collected from a wildlife protected area to the local governments in the area surrounding the wildlife protected area (UWA 1996).

From the collections, revenue sharing was one of the means of improving community park relations soliciting support from local communities around protected areas in order to ensure sustainability (Archabald and Naughton-Treves 2001), and indeed the report continued to emphasise that revenue sharing provided a mechanism of attempting to address fair and just distribution of benefits from protected areas to local communities who bear the biggest cost of protected areas (Hulme & Murphree, 2001). My research therefore aimed at identifying whether this policy had been put into practice. Its level of success and people's perception on revenue sharing among communities residing around Bwindi National Park were looked into.

2.4 Attitudes of the local people towards conservation

Allport (1935) referred attitudes to a mental and neutral state of readiness, organised through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individuals' responses to all objects or situations with which it is related. Attitudes are thus not born with but learned and have objective reference, differ in valence and like most psychological concepts; can be deduced from the observed antecedent stimulus and the consequent behaviour pattern.

According to Lindberg (1991), local people's attitudes towards conservation are mostly induced by ecotourism's contribution to the local economy. This can be in form of increased incomes by the local people, increased employment opportunities and even general infrastructure without forgetting participation of all stakeholders at all stages (government officials, protected area personnel and the local people). Contrarily, negative attitudes result from the negative impacts that local people acquire from ecotourism development. These may be in form of inflationary pressure on local economies and exclusion of the local people from management and use of resources on which they depended on for their basic needs (Cater, 1992).

The involvement of several stakeholders makes it difficult for policy makers and beneficiaries of tourism revenue share fail to meet their intended objectives which justifies Laudats' statement that “ Individuals for whom the projects are intended are minimally consulted, and policies are not negotiated with the input of local residents but are determined and evaluated based on institutional core values and foreign parameters of success” (Laudati, 2007), increasing vulnerability of local communities as a result of poor coordination and management between Uganda Wildlife Authority and National policy makers.

2.5 Constraints to revenue sharing

Constraints to revenue sharing stats with the vague manner in away which benefactors are defined by some scholars For instance, according to Uganda National Parks (1994) beneficiaries are defined as people living adjoining the parks that are affected by, and affect the park. Thus, Agrawal (1997) argues that establishing equitable and effective revenue-sharing programs requires that we define the ‘local community', an entity much celebrated but poorly understood Most conservationists agree that economic benefits should be shared with those who most immediately affect and are affected by a protected area (Wells & Brandon 1992; Western & Wright 1994). Yet, those who have the greatest impact on biodiversity conservation are not necessarily the same as those suffering the greatest costs of conservation (Barrett & Arcese 1995).

Local people, park level authorities, and national level UWA staff members, all expressed concern that funds for revenue-sharing were inadequate. Nationally, TRS programs depend on political stability to sustain profitable levels of tourism. In the late 1990s, citizens in western Uganda suffered violence from various rebel movements. In March 1999, Rwandan rebels from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo killed eight tourists at Bwindi. Tourist numbers plunged not only in Bwindi, but also in Mgahinga and Kibale (Berkes 2004).

There are potential problems with corruption at both the local and national levels. Several local respondents mentioned their distrust of park administrators and stressed the need for transparency and accountability. Current UWA staff in Bwindi reported that thousands of US dollars worth of TRS funds was used for other park management purposes in 1998 resulting in the withdrawal of TRS funding for approved projects in two parishes. During this period, several staff members were sanctioned for mismanaging funds. UWA and community representatives also suspected that individual wardens used part of this money for personal gain, which increased distrust between the local people and park management and made the work of committed wardens even more difficult (Karen and Naughton-Treves, 2001).


3.1 Study area

As an area of interest, Bwindi National Park was chosen because it is among the highest ranked National Park harbouring lofty biodiversity in Uganda compared to others. Bwindi, Mgahinga and Virunga along the Eastern boarder of DRC increase with most of the only living gorillas as an attraction point of tourists all over the World (Muyambi 2006). Since it is among those gazetted areas to be created by UWA as a park and with special consideration of the number of residents surrounding it, Bwindi National Park served as a good reference for the study. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is surrounded by three districts; Kabale, Kanungu and Kisoro. Kanungu was randomly selected after visiting all these three districts' UWA offices and identifying how they would impact and be impacted by Bwindi National Park. It also harbours Buhoma, one of the biggest UWA offices in the region.

3.1.1 Geographical Location

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda between Latitudes 0° 53" S to 1° 8" S and longitude 29° 35" E to 29° 50" E. The park covers an area of 331Km2 (128 square miles) occupying the highest block of the Rukiga highlands on the eastern edge of the Western Rift Valley. The park lies on the Uganda- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border, about 29km North West of Kabale town, 18km North of Kisoro town, 25km North of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and about 40km south of Lake Edward. The park is situated in Mukono, Rubanda, Kinkizi and Rujumbura sub counties of Kabale, Kanungu and Kisoro districts respectively. These three districts are highly populated compared to other districts of Uganda with 324, 163, and 281persons per km2 respectively compared to the National average estimated at 122.8/km2, indicating high of pressure and competition on resources inside and outside the Park (UWA 2001).

3.1.2 Topography

The topography of BINP is extremely rugged and much dissected, especially in the more elevated higher southern sector. It is one of the few forest parks in Eastern Africa containing both medium altitude and montage forests in a continuum. With altitudinal range of 1160- 2607m above sea level (i.e.), more than 50 percent of BINP lies above 1790m. The only significant flat area is Mubwindi swamp while the rest of the park consists of narrow, very steep- sided valleys that run in all directions, bounded by hillcrests. The highest hill, Rwamunyonyi (2607m) is situated in the Southeast part of Bwindi forest (Obua, 1998)

3.1.3 Climate

There are two dry seasons, December- January and June- August, with the wettest periods occurring in March- April and August- November (Kamugisha, 1997 et al. in Balikowa, 2007). Rainfall ranges from 1130 to 2390 mm per year, the average 1450 mm (57 In). The number of rainy days per year varies from 122 to 177. The daily temperatures range from 7 to 20°C (45-68°F). Average monthly temperature varies by less than 4°C throughout the year. The coolest period is June to July. The Park headquarter receives a total rainfall range from 20-500mm per month, September being the month with highest total rainfall and January being the lowest. The average minimum temperature is 15.0° C and the maximum temperature is 35.5° C.

3.1.4 Flora

Bwindi is one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa where lowland and mixed vegetation communities meet. Combined with its probable role as Pleistocene refugee, Bwindi has an extremely high biodiversity (Butynski and Kalina 1998). Leggat and Osmaston (1961) noted that, the vegetation of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest was very complex and greatly affected by altitudinal variation, topography and soil depth. The forest contains several vegetation types that are summarised by Howard (1991) into 10 major types.

The area is broadly classified as medium altitude moist evergreen forest and high altitude forest. Approximately 40 percent of the forest is rich to medium - rich mixed forest, including key species such as Prunus fricana, nationally threatened Newtonfa bacchanalia, Symphoniag/obu/ifera, Chrysophyllum spp, Podocarpus, and Strombosia scheff/eri. There are three (presumably climax) communities, which tend to single species dominance, the dominant depending on altitude.

In low-lying areas around 1500m attitude, Parinariexe/sa is the dominant (about 10 percent of the park) around 2,000m it is a Newtonia buchananii (about 11percent of the park), and over 2,000m Chrysophyllum gorungosanum dominates (about 8 percent of the park). Low stature communities, classified as poor, hill and colonising types, occupy almost 30 percent of the park. There are also small areas of swamp and grassland. Bamboo forest is restricted to less than 100ha (Howard 1991).

Bwindi is among the most diverse forests in East Africa for tree species (more than 200 species) and ferns (more than 104 species). It was for this reason that Bwindi was selected by Ion's plant programme as one of the 29 forests in Africa most important for conserving plant diversity. The trees of Bwindi, about 200 species include 10 species not found elsewhere in Uganda; Croton bukobensis, Strombosiopsis tetradra, Brazzeia longipediceJ/ata, Grewia mildraedii, Maesobotrya purse gloveii, Bathasaria schliebBnii, Xylopia standtii, AJ/anblackia kimbiliensis, Memecylon spp, and Guarea mayombensis (Howard 1991).

The ecological importance of Bwindi is exceptional, and has therefore been rewarded as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi is an Afromontane forest that is considered to be the rarest vegetation type on the African continent. Although the park is not the largest of the Afromontane forests in the region, its contribution to the total species diversity is significant. This high species diversity is attributable to a big altitudinal range and because part of the forest has served as a Pleistocene refugium. Bwindi is one of the richest forests in East Africa for birds, butterflies, reptiles, trees, moths and has the highest diversity of small mammals amongst the African forests. The forest serves as an important water catchment area, it gives rise to several major rivers, and it is the primary source of water for Lakes Edward, Mutanda and Bunyonyi (UWA, 2002).

3.1.5 Fauna

Bwindi is believed to hold one of the richest faunal communities in East Africa, including over 214 species of forest birds, 120 species of mammals including 7 species of diurnal primates, and 202 species of butterfly (84 percent of the country's total). Highly significant in Bwindi is the presence of over one third of the world's population of mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla berenge/) about 300 out of the 650, which live, in some 28 family units (McNeilage et al 1998).

A total of 11 species of birds, and 3 butterflies occur only in Bwindi (and in some cases neighbouring highland forests of south west Kigezi) within their Ugandan range. The bird species are Fraser's Eagle Owl (Bubopoensis), Dwarf Honey-guide (Indicator Pumilio), African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomera grauen), White-bellied Robin chat (Cossyphicula robert/)" Short-tailed Warbler (Hemitesia neumanni, Yellow-eyed Slack Flycatcher (Melaenomis ardesiaca), Chapin's Flycatcher (Muscicapalendu), Montane Double-collared sun bird (Cinnyris Ludovicesis) and Dusky twinspot (Clytospiza cinereoinacea). The butterflies are Cream banded swallowtail (papilio leucotaenia), Graphium gudenusi and

Charaxes fourierae. Howard (1991)

Bwindi is an important locality for the conservation of afromontane fauna, in particular those endemic to the mountains of the western rift valley. Globally threatened species include eastem chimpanzees (Pan Troglodyte's scweinfurth). L'hoest monkey (Cercopithecus I'hoestl), African elephant (Loxodonta africana) numbering an estimated 30 individuals and the African Giant Swallow tail butterfly (Papilioantimachus), (Howard, 1991).

3.1.6 Conservation management history of the park

The conservation efforts of Bwindi can be traced back from 1932 when it was made up of two forest blocks known as Kasatora (southern section) and Kayonza (northern section) and Crown Forest Reserves respectively (UWA, 2002). Due to protection efforts, the two forest blocks were later combined in 1942 and renamed as the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest. By this time the forest was under dual control by the Forest department and the Game department (Mutebi, 2003). In 1991 the area was upgraded as a National Park, and was named Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. As a National Park the responsible organization shifted to Uganda National Parks, now Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA, 2002). The shift from Forest Reserve to National Park had more implications than just a change in management. It also had a major impact on the surrounding communities; they were no longer allowed to enter the area. This implied that they no longer were able to utilize resources, as they had done traditionally (Namara, 2006).

Until 1994, the Management plan for Bwindi was the Forest Department Working Plan 1961- 71 (Leggat & Osmaston, 1961), which emphasised simultaneous preservation of forest cover with maximum sustainable timber production. Unfortunately, the period following 1971, the Forest Department management structures collapsed, leading to massive illegal exploitation of the forest for timber, bush meat, gold, building materials, cultivation and livestock grazing. Stabilisation occurred following establishment of Impenetrable Forest Conservation Project in 1986, and under the auspices of various initiatives, first with the Forest Department, and more recently with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). In addition to law -enforcement, the main achievements of UWA to date are in the areas of inventory and monitoring, research, staff training and demarcation and securing of park boundaries. Due to the high human population density of surrounding areas, Bwindi is threatened with agricultural encroachment. In combating this threat, UWA is assisted by the CARE- Development through Conservation (DTC) and Mgahinga Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Conservation Trust (MBIFCT) project which is promoting good relations with the local community. An overall management plan has recently been prepared jointly by ITFC, CARE-DTC, MBIFCT, IGCP and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) although a tourism specific plan has been in use since the beginning of 1993.

3.1.7 Socio-economic characteristics

The majority of the people residing around Bwindi National park are Bakiga followed by Bafumbira mainly from Kisoro and the minority Batwa with a population of only 5% (Korbee, 2007). The main agricultural products grown for subsistence are sorghum, sweet potatoes, millet, peas, wheat, Irish potatoes and bananas. The area outside the park is intensively cultivated. From the valley up to the top of the hills, every piece of land is in use.

The location of Bwindi, in the south-western corner of the country, bordering the DRC, contributes to its remoteness. It is difficult and time consuming to reach the area and the National Park, for tourists, but more important also for the people of the region. Due to the hills, the high rainfall and the bad state of the roads, a trip to Bwindi is a real adventure. All traffic to Bwindi passes Butogota, 17 kilometers from the park headquarters and tourist facilities. The condition of the road between Buhoma and Butogota is in such a bad shape, that this last stretch takes about 50 minutes by car. This is inconvenient for tourist travelling by public transport, but really problematic for the local population. But at new area that is starting to share the benefits is Nteko parish. A new group of habituated gorillas is situated on that side of Bwindi. At the moment there is no accommodation for the gorilla trackers, but this will come in the near future. Another source of income outside agriculture is the gorilla research and monitoring at the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation. The institute employs a lot of local people to help the researchers with their work. Although this is an important source of income in the direct vicinity of Ruhija, the restrictions to expand are obviously difficult.

Korbee (2007) also concurred with PMA (2000) when he noted that residents surrounding the park boast with subsistence agriculture as the main economic activity and though illegal, poaching is commonly practiced. Crops grown for subsistence use include bananas, potatoes, beans, groundnuts, cassava to list but a few. Tea, coffee and tobacco growing are the major source of income totalling to 40 % of the whole community income. Another source of income is money obtained as a result of tourist activities like selling crafts, accommodating tourists and getting employment opportunities inside the Park especially people residing near Uganda Wildlife Authority Offices in Buhoma (Plumptre et al. 2004). Although the economy around Bwindi Forest is predominantly dependent on cultivation at present, other economic activities formerly also depended on either directly collected or indirectly obtained forest products. These products were used in day-to-day life for incomes, farming, and domestic use.

3.2. Methods

In order to identify beneficiaries of revenue sharing in terms of parishes, villages or specific geographical areas, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. Snowball method was used to identify key informants. Using this type of method helped me to contact small groups of informants who would guide me to other respondents. The key informants included BINP officials and community leaders.

3.2.1 Primary data collection

Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used in data collection. Bryman (2001) explains several ways of combining qualitative and quantitative research. The rationale of using a multi-strategy ensured that the researcher did not solely rely on method in investing a problem, but rather integrated both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The main idea behind combining these research methods was that they largely complemented each other in a research process and is likely to give reliable findings. The different approaches to multi-strategy research included triangulation which is both qualitative and quantitative; for example ensures that results obtained from a research done using one method was cross-checked against using another method associated with another research strategy to ensure reliability. This method measured the extent to which revenue sharing policies were practiced. Qualitative data collection was conducted through semi-structured interviews to ensure flexibilities and openness. This helped the researcher to lead a conversation with informants and at the same time be able to re-phrase questions for more precise responses.

3.2.2 Questionnaire-guided interviews

To examine the impact of revenue sharing on local peoples' attitude towards the park and its management, different interview sheets were prepared while interviewing Park employees/managers and local people. Specificity was ensured while asking questions to Park leaders and other policy makers involved in revenue sharing projects. On the other hand, questions towards local people allowed more flexibility and discussions to ensure openness and ability to investigate people's perception about the policy and practice of revenue sharing around Bwindi National Park. In order to identify constraints to revenue sharing around Bwindi National Park, key informants like people working with NGOs, Park managers and district government officials were contacted.

3.2.3 Interview with key informants

Among the local people, key informers such as local leaders, development project officials were interviewed. Individual and focus group interviews were conducted among households.

3.2.4 Secondary data collection

Secondary data were obtained from reviews of Environmental sector reports and official government documents. To support primary data, statistical data from other concerned institutions and the Uganda Revenue Authority was used to establish and cross check whether proclaimed revenue sharing yield equal benefits to all community members. In addition, necessary documents from the Uganda Revenue Authority were utilised to cross check how tourism revenues were distributed to different stakeholders. However, not all data collected could be quantified because the information availed was more of a story or less coordinated and consisted a lot of irregularities to consider for quantification.

3.3 Ethical considerations

The ethical part of my research is based on Bryman (2001). Ethical considerations in research are basic to safeguard the integrity of the research process. Questions about the treatment of respondents and other people on whom research is conducted, the harm that this might inflict on them and issues related to inadequacy of informed consent, invasion of privacy and deception were handled with great consideration in the research process. In the process of identifying respondents, the researcher introduced him and the particulars of the research. The respondents' consent on participation in the research was thereafter sought and honoured. Since revenue sharing deals with incomes in direct or indirect ways, information from respective respondents was treated with confidentiality to minimise any negative effects on the respondents. Such an assurance cleared obscurities and thus erased fears about invasion of privacy.

3.4 Data analysis

Data from primary collection were crosschecked against statistical data collected from the Uganda wildlife Authority, at the district level and from inside park management. A comparison was made followed by a general analysis resulting from the findings. Triangulation was used to cross check the data obtained through interviews with the local community, Park managers and through data obtained from the Uganda Wildlife Authority at the National level whether revenue sharing improved the livelihoods of people and communities around Bwindi National Park. Data was obtained as to why some parishes had benefited from revenue sharing more than others and the procedure used to determine criteria used in this process. Qualitative data dominated the research work done because data collected from focus group discursions and from other key informers using in-depth interviews could not be applied to the entire sample set. Socio-economic data were analysed, edited and coded for analysis using descriptive statistics developed in Excel and SPSS packages. Data were presented in charts, graphs and tables.


4.1 Demographic and socio-economic characteristics

Data was collected from Kanungu district, which takes up the biggest share of the three districts sharing Bwindi National Park. One hundred interviews were conducted in three parishes but only 89 respondents were considered for quantitative analysis because other interviews involved lengthy discussions with local leaders and park representatives that could not be quantified. Out of the 89 respondents, 59 representing 66% were male while the rest were female and majority (65%) households were male headed.

The average age of the respondents in this study ranged from 20 to 39. A comparison of the residents' age with the type of settlements to track their residential plans revealed that irrespective of the age bracket, most residents wanted to live permanently around the park. There is no correlation between age and desire to reside around the park. However, noticeably majority (65%) of the respondents in the age group range of 22-39 years wish to stay permanently around the park possibly because of the employment opportunities that the park has for this otherwise economically active age group.

Most of the respondents (74%) were born in the area and the rest were migrants. Most residents had stayed around the park for quite long, in some cases numbering to more than thirty years (Table 1).

Table 1 Duration of stay in the study area

Duration (years)



























A cross-tabulation of the type of settlement with residential status revealed that individuals who planned to stay temporarily were the least (13%), while those who wanted to stay around the park permanently were the majority. This suggests that despite the changes in management of the park, people still find it necessary to remain settled around the park possibly because of some park-related benefits such as job creation.

Migrants came to the areas adjacent to the park for varied reasons. A bigger percentage (45%) came in search for either farming or grazing land while others for reasons that include marital reasons (especially the women who traditionally have to move to the husband's village). A small section (5%) of the migrants simply moved the park edge because of threats from wild animal that ate their crops, attacked their wildlife but stayed within the same village yet others had moved in search for employment particularly in the extraction of forest resources when the area was a forest reserve. As Marquardt et al (1993) notes, the area around Bwindi Forest was settled primarily during the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of 21st century by people coming from Kabale and Kisoro or further south from Rwanda and west from DRC. The movement was reportedly caused by land shortage, famine, and tribal wars in the originating areas[1]. Earlier movements into the area occurred in the early 1950s both voluntarily through government-sponsored programmes to relieve land pressure on districts that were close to the park. Even though land pressure is more acute than before, anticipating emigrants are reported to fail owing to inadequacy of financial backing to relocate. This supports the fact that most residents are now reluctant to move.

Agriculture is the main source of income for most (73%) of the respondents (Figure 2). Main agricultural crops grown for subsistence are sorghum, sweet potatoes, millet, peas, wheat, Irish potatoes and bananas. Those who mainly depended on tourists for small wages as porters made the least proportion of the population. The household members generally had a poor access to cash income. Up to 47% of the resident population around the park had earned less than five US dollars household income in the six months preceding the research date.

Only 43% of the respondents had a source of secondary income. Secondary income source for respondents who had other primary sources of income apart from agriculture were still dominated by agriculture, mainly surplus from food crops (18%) and cash crop (16%) while engagement in some form of business contributed least. Most of the produce is sold in a nearby weekly market in Butogota.

The study showed that majority of the community members were engaged in agriculture as the main source of income. This concurs with earlier findings by for example Korbee (2007), and Plumptre et al (2004). The area outside the park is intensively cultivated. To provide for wood needs, 30% of the farmers report some on-farm substitution of plants and trees normally grown in the forest. The main reasons for planting trees in the area are to fight soil erosion, to improve soil fertility, and to provide timber.

However, in consistence with observations where people residing adjacent to forested areas depend on forest resources for survival (FAO, 1992), the people around the park reported to have significantly depended on the Bwindi forest for their livelihoods, before it had been declared a national park. As Madden (1999) notes, despite the park protection status, local people continue to invade the park and carry out illegal activities like pit sawing and snaring to supplement their subsistence activities and some continue to have negative attitudes towards the park because of the restrictions its creation has created.

4.2 Revenue sharing

4.2.1 Extent to which policies on revenue sharing are put into practice

The outlines of the policy on revenue sharing by UWA are summarized as; Having good working relations with the communities around PA's, demonstration of economic value of PA's by UWA to improve people's livelihoods, solicit and support acceptance of PA's from communities, involve the local governments into the management of funds and accounts of the revenue sharing scheme, build capacity in the community and monitoring of revenue sharing funds and impacts in the community. The implementation of the revenue sharing scheme was evaluated for the extent to which policy is put in practice and key issues emerged with implications for the success of the targets of the revenue sharing scheme and below I present them.

Demonstrate economic value of protected areas

The policy tasks UWA to demonstrate the economic value of protected areas to stakeholders. To this effect, UWA has paid out to communities revenue share to a tune of 100 million a year (Figure 3). This was also confirmed by the local leaders who were interviewed and pointed out that the local people are benefiting from the revenue sharing policy.

An important aspect on demonstrating the economic value of the PAs is the amount of money disbursed under the revenue sharing policy. Majority respondents who were aware of the scheme claimed that the amounts received were rather too low to make a meaningful contribution to their livelihoods. The explanation for the low amounts involved can be traced in the changes that were introduced after the 1996 Uganda Wildlife Statute. Before then, Ugandan parks shared 12 percent of their total revenue with the households living in their vicinity. With the passing of the Uganda Wildlife Statute, this changed to 20 percent of park entry fees alone. Whereas this change from 12 to 20 percent meant a net increase for those parks that have mass tourism, it meant a decline for Bwindi where the practice of ecotourism requires that visitor numbers are regulated. Also, concentration on entry fees alone means that no share of the revenue from gorilla tracking permits is shared yet this is the main source of income. In addition, the claimed small amounts are not regularly disbursed, sometimes taking up to four years without any disbursement.

Involving the local governments in the management of the revenue sharing scheme

UWA currently works in hand with the local government through the unit of production and environment. The revenue sharing scheme is managed by this unit that serves as the liaison between UWA and the local government. A collection of the secretaries for environment and production at the different levels of the local government constitute what is known as the Community Protected Area Institution (CPI). UWA has traditionally funded the activities of this institution. This was confirmed by key informants from both UWA and the local government. In this respect, it can be said UWA is practicing what is specified in policy; to involve the local governments in the management of the revenue sharing scheme.

Good working relations with the communities

The policy provides for UWA to create and solicit acceptance of their programs and revenue sharing around protected areas. This was partly achieved through creating awareness of its programs to the communities. To this effect, majority (81%) of the respondents were aware of the programs of UWA. This implies that the policy had had an impact to the communities in that respect.

4.2.2 Projects funded under the revenue sharing scheme

An assessment of people's knowledge of the projects that have been funded under the revenue sharing scheme revealed four categories of projects. The building of schools, clinics and roads are benefits attributable to the community at large where as the goats project benefits individual households.

As one park official put it, with community level projects as in the example where revenue sharing money was used to build a council hall in one sub county, park edge households in the sub-county viewed this as un fair and several held, “they have no child there, and so will never have a chance to enter such a nice building unless they got arrested for say failure to pay graduated tax”. In this respect, the convers


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