Forest IBAs are effective at capturing a large proportion of other forest biodiversity in Uganda

Ruwenzori Forest IBA, Uganda, © Manuel Werner

Detailed but expensive surveys of woody plants, birds, small mammals, butterflies and two families of moths in 50 Forest Reserves in Uganda identified 2,452 species. Thirteen of these reserves are also Important Bird Areas (IBAs) which, between them, hold 89% of the 2,452 species, indicating that IBAs are effective at conserving much of Uganda’s forest biodiversity, and selected with considerably lower survey costs.

In Uganda, the national Forest Authority has conducted a remarkably thorough inventory programme of five wildlife groups in 50 Forest Reserves, with the aim of identifying priority areas for conservation (Howard et al. 1997, 1998). The study took 100 person-years, cost US$1 million, and surveyed woody plants, birds, small mammals (rodents and insectivores), butterflies and large moths (saturnids and sphingids). A total of 2,452 species was identified. Independently, NatureUganda (BirdLife in Uganda) has identified and documented a network of 30 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) (Byaruhanga et al. 2001), 13 of which are also Forest Reserves. This provides an opportunity to evaluate how effectively these 13 IBAs, selected on bird data alone, represent total species richness across five taxon groups.

Analysis shows that the 13 ‘forest’ IBAs, with an area of 5,445 km2, capture 2,181 (89%) of all the species identified in the 50 forest reserves, covering a total of 10,000 km2. This suggests that these 13 IBAs are an effective suite of sites for conserving a large and representative proportion of Uganda’s forest biodiversity (Pain et al. 2005). The low cost of gathering IBA data, compared with conducting site inventories for multiple taxa, reinforces the practicality of using birds as beacons for Key Biodiversity Areas.


Byaruhanga, A., Kasoma, P. and Pomeroy, D. (2001) Uganda. Pp. 975–1003 in L. D. C., Fishpool and M. I., Evans, eds (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK: Pisces Publications and BirdLife International.
Howard, P., Davenport, T. and Kigenyi, F. (1997) Planning conservation areas in Uganda's natural forests. Oryx 31: 253–264.
Howard, P. C., Viskanic, P., Davenport, T. R. B., Kigenyi, F. W., Baltzer, M., Dickinson, C.J., Lwanga, J. S., Matthews, R. A. and Balmford, A. (1998) Complementarity and the use of indicator groups for reserve selection in Uganda. Nature 394: 472–475.
Pain, D. J., Fishpool, L., Byaruhanga, A., Arinaitwe, J. and Balmford, A. (2005) Biodiversity representation in Uganda’s forest IBAs. Biol. Conserv.125: 133–138.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2008) Forest IBAs are effective at capturing a large proportion of other forest biodiversity in Uganda. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: . Checked: