Impacts of social-economic development on Mabamba Bay wetland, Wakiso district
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Mabamba Bay Wetland is recognized under the Ramsar Convention as an Important Bird Area (IBA) that harbours the globally threatened Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) and offers other ecosystem goods and services such as water purification and nutrient retention. Mabamba Bay wetland has a rapidly increasing population that depends on it for their household livelihood but even so, little is known on the social-economic developments and their implications on the wetland’s conservation. Land use and cover changes in Mabamba Bay Wetland were analysed from multi-temporal Landsat images (1995, 2005 and 2016) and associated field-based studies April - June 2017. The major land cover types were, woodland, wetland, built-up, subsistence farming, bushland and open water. The area covered by the wetland reduced from 8213.22ha in 1995 to 7838.19ha in 2005 and slightly increased to 7844.31ha in 2016. This decrease is negligible and is attributed to subsistence farming and settlements, which saw an increase during the study period. Woodland and Bushland have decreased from 3564.54ha in 1995 to 2255.31ha in 2016 and from 2048.58ha in 1995 to 1790.46ha Km in 2016 respectively while the open water had no change. Land-use and cover changes were a result of (a) agricultural expansion, (b) increasing human population, (c) land tenure and (d) built up. Farming is the main socio-economic activity and a major driver of land cover changes. 27.9% of the respondents reported farming as their major source of livelihood. The crops grown are tomatoes, cassava, maize, yams, beans, sweet potatoes and rice. The agricultural activities are attributed to the fertile land, availability of water and good weather. Other economic activities carried out in the wetland include tourism, fishing, bricklaying and sand mining. There is an ever-increasing need for more land for agricultural expansion and built up, as a result, there is a continued loss of the wetland coverage. Therefore, the existing institutional structures for wetland policy and legal framework implementation in Uganda like the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), should take action and prevent further degradation of the wetland by ensuring its sustainable use and management regulating the wetland users like the fishermen, boat riders and the tourist guides will also ensure balanced resource exploitation and conservation of the wetland.