Education's role in sustainable development: Uganda's Kibale National Park
AbstractKibale National Park (KNP), located in western Uganda, offers a rich diversity of tropical flora and fauna. The Park’s mid-altitude, moist tropical forest supports 11 of Uganda’s 20 non-human primate species, some of which occur in very high densities. The region around KNP is home to seven national parks and numerous protected areas. Located within KNP is the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS), with an extensive 25-year research history and a mandate to assist KNP in protecting the ecosystems of the region through management-relevant research. While KNP and MUBFS have received much visibility within Uganda, East Africa and the tropics as an important biological resource, both institutions face formidable obstacles in meeting their respective conservation mandates. For KNP, severe human population pressures around the Park, coupled with chronic shortages of capital, personnel, and other resources, make maintaining current Park resources problematic, let alone ensuring their long-term viability and protection. For MUBFS, declining donor support make it increasingly difficult to fund research programs and operations. Together, these challenges highlight the need for revenue-generating activities that can bestow direct and tangible benefits to KNP, MUBFS, and surrounding communities. This paper examines the contributions that study abroad programs can make to resource protection efforts in the KNP region. Direct benefits include income generated through course fees, meals, housing accommodations, miscellaneous purchases, and staff and instructor fees. Indirect benefits include the increased awareness of the region’s economic, scientific and ecological value by study abroad participants, local communities, institutions, and policy makers. Since the challenges facing KNP and MUBFS are common throughout Africa and much of the developing world, the issues and opportunities discussed here have widespread application.