What heritage does for conservation: Addressing nature conservation in Kibale National Park from a sustainable heritage management perspective

Start date: 4 March, 2016 End date: 5 May, 2016 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29545 Countries: Uganda Institutions: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Grant recipient: Iben Dragsbæk Hansen Total grant: 8,100 DKK



Nature conservation and biodiversity has been a part of the heritage scene since the first national parks were created. National parks are constructs that promotes and protects national heritage around the world, and this construct has been both criticized and celebrated by different academic fields and people living in and around them since they were first created. The national park framework is based on the idea, that some areas in the world are natural, while others are cultural. This idea has been challenged, especially from non-western cultures, where heritage practices are closely connected to nature, and a distinction between what is nature and what is culture has become problematic. The field of natural and cultural heritage and how these two relates is the outset of this master’s thesis.


In this thesis, a case study performed in Kibale National Park in Uganda for two months is presented. It is based on the collaboration with two organizations that work with nature conservation, research, education and other relating areas, which intend to examine the following issue:


How the new academic field of sustainable heritage management can contribute to nature conservation and sustainable development in a specific site.


To approach this issue, three main themes were selected: Conservation challenges in Kibale National Park, Human wildlife conflicts and Indigenous people’s rights. Through these main themes, a number of different aspects will be analyzed to understand how they affect nature conservation and the local people in the area. In the first section, the current conservation strategies in Kibale are analyzed based on the work performed by the collaborating organizations. Influential factors such as poverty and the local attitudes are examined to create an understanding of the general premise for conservation in Kibale. In the section on human wildlife conflicts, the problems with crop-raiding and losses to the park are analyzed. Included here is also the issues of compensation, ownership and how people’s attitudes are affected by these conditions. In the last section, focus is on Indigenous people’s rights, and how these are or can be addressed in the framework of Kibale. Within this scope comes the questions of rights to cultural expressions, access to resources and the problem of evicted communities. Throughout the analyzes it becomes evident, that many of the aspects and challenges to conservation are inevitably intertwined and affects each other in a variety of ways. These main themes create a frame that ensures different approaches to the case and thereby an all-round analysis with focus on the organizations that operates in the area, the local people and the challenges they face due to the national park, and the system that Kibale as a national park is part of and managed based on.