Crops, trees, and birds: Biodiversity change under agricultural intensification in Uganda's farmed landscapes

Simon Bolwig*, Derek Pomeroy, Herbert Tushabe, David Mushabe

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This paper examines the relationship between the intensity of agricultural land use and the abundance and richness of trees and birds in a humid tropical developing region where natural vegetation is being rapidly converted into farmland under market and population pressures. We analysed survey data on land use, birds and woody plants collected in 14 study sites situated within smallholder cropland and commercial plantations in southern Uganda. Commercial plantations had very few trees and only 10% of the original bird species. Land use intensification in smallholder systems also showed losses in bird abundance and species richness, but not nearly as much as in plantations. In both systems the impact of intensification was much bigger on the specialised and threatened birds compared to the less specialised species. This argues strongly for 'species-sensitive' conservation policies combining protected areas with land use regulation in areas undergoing intensification. We also found a much higher loss in bird biodiversity during the first phases of land use intensification (when larger tracts of forest are cleared) than in later phases characterised by clearing of smaller patches of vegetation and improved management of farm trees. This suggests high pay-offs to geographical targeting of conservation efforts in farmed landscapes.
TidsskriftGeografisk Tidsskrift
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)115-130
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2006
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Humid tropics
  • Land use
  • Uganda
  • Woody plants

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