The Rwenzori Mountains National Park covers nearly 100,000 ha in western Uganda and comprises the main part of the Rwenzori mountain chain, which includes Africa's third highest peak (Mount Margherita: 5,109 m). The region's glaciers, waterfalls and lakes are essential to feed Africa's two largest rivers, the Nile and the Congo River. With many endangered species and an important source of water and carbon capture in Africa, the Rwenzori mountains are facing challenges indicted by human activities.
The Rwanzori mountains are affected by human activity. The growing number of people living around the property is adding pressure on forest resources and partly causing deforestation and to some extent poaching. This endangers the ecosystems unless the local authorities can take action to overcome these problems.
The main challenge in rural areas in general and in the Rwenzori national park, in particular, is that it is poorly mapped. Satellite data are outdated and the current stakeholders have very limited, low-resolution, and old data to measure recent changes that are constantly happening due to human activity. The local population is not generally involved in capturing data and participating in decision-making, although they are central in all development intitiatives.
Emmanuel Adiba, a local drone operator, was active in capturing valuable earth observation data with drones to map the area along an edge of the Rwenzori national park. This area mapped belongs to the nearby village, but mapping it is essential to monitor the evolution of human activity and how they interfere with the Rwenzori forest.
There was a need to see how much of the national reserve was cleared, how much forests had been cut, and how much into the buffer of 100m was encroached by the community. We need to ensure that our conservation efforts not only protect nature now but keep it protected throughout the years.
Mapping forests and rural areas with drones is an important tool to monitor the change and provide data for local authorities to take actions. With Crowddroning, data is captured by local operators, this giving the local communities the opportunity and the power to contribute to the preservation efforts and involved in decision making.