The impact of industrial oil development on a protected area landscape: demographic and social change at Murchison Falls Conservation Area, Uganda


Unprecedented mineral and oil extraction is occurring in Africa, often in important areas of conservation. This is especially true in the Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA) in northwestern Uganda. We assessed land fragmentation and conversion between 2002 and 2014 and quantified changes in human population density in the districts surrounding MFCA between 1969 and 2014 to understand landscape level impacts of oil development on the MFCA landscape. We found that three districts with ongoing oil development have increased population more rapidly (+ 69.3%) than districts without oil development (+ 27.6%), as well as the national average of Uganda (+ 41.5%). These districts also had higher proportional increases in total developed land cover and fragmentation in natural land cover. This study provides an increased understanding of how oil can shape human-environment interactions outside of globally important protected areas.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Population and Environment



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