Aspire Grant Program Awardee

Opito Emmanuel Abwa

Opito Emmanuel Abwa

Fostering biodiversity conservation through battling invasive plants in Kibale National Park, Uganda.

Uganda —

Forest restoration efforts in Kibale National Park (Kibale) are stalled for over three decades due to the invasive Lantana camara and the woody herb, Acanthus pubescens. Studies conducted years back recommended massive removal of the woody herb Acanthus pubescens and Lantana camara so as to enhance forest regeneration in degraded Kibale. With funding from Aspire, I plan to test whether removal of Lantana/Acanthus facilitates initial forest regeneration and wildlife use of the degraded sections of Kibale. Furthermore, biomass of the hyper abundant Lantana/Acanthus will be tested for manufacture of fuel briquettes (a cleaner cooking energy than commonly used fuel wood), which will likely be made available to the community around Kibale at an affordable price with more funding.

Forest regeneration will be tested by assessing seedling recruitment and growth of trees after removal of Lantana/Acanthus. Camera traps will be used to assess wildlife use of the area after removal of the hyper abundant species, while Lantana/Acanthus biomass will be processed into briquettes and compared with briquettes from other materials. These will be part of a PhD study I will be partaking at Makerere University under mentorship of Assistant Professor Dipto Sarkar and other professors assigned to me upon admission.

This award was supported by JRS Biodiversity.