Echuya Forest Reserve

Echuya Forest Reserve is situated in Bufumbira county in Kisoro District and Rubanda county in Kabale District. The southern end runs along the north-eastern border of Rwanda. The forest lies between 1?14' - 1?21' S and 29?47' - 29?52'E, covers an area of 34 km?, and has an altitudal range of 2270 - 2570 m. It is situated on the high altitude range running between Lake Bunyonyi, 5kms to the East, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, 13 km to the south west. It is 11 km east of Kisoro and 15 km west of Kabale town. The main Kabale - Kisoro road passes through the northern end.

Echuya_swamp.jpgThe forest lies at the heart of the biodiversity rich Albertine rift eco-region and is a site of global biodiversity importance and hence is categorised by BirdLife as an important Bird Area because of the high diversity of bird species, some of which are globally threatened and endemic.

Echuya is particularly known for its high quality bamboo,Yushania alpina. There are also areas of broad-leaved forest, particularly along the Eastern side and higher altitude northern end of the Kabale - Kisoro road. The forest cover is approximately 80% mature Macaranga kilimandscharia and Hagenia abyssinica forest and 20% mountain bamboo Yushania alpina.

The forest contains the large Muchuya Swamp which runs north south along the reserve and drains it to the south.

The forest is surrounded by areas with a very high rural population density that depends entirely on natural resources and forest products for their basic livelihood needs e.g. firewood, bamboo for construction, medicinal plants etc). Most of the landscape around Echuya has been deforested, leaving the Central Forest Reserve as the only local source of forest products. The surrounding communities have been using forest products unsustainably due to lack of alternative sources of livelihoods. Other conservation organizations including Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) have also come up with sustainable programmes such as gorilla tracking, birding, community walks, e.tc that are geared towards improving the livelihoods of the sorrounding communities.

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