In July 2023, Makerere University hosted the third Summer School on Landscape Ecology. Held   in Kampala and Mbale Districts on the theme “Ecological Governance for Socio-ecological Systems of Sub Saharan Africa”, the activity attracted participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, and Mali.

The overall theme of the Summer School Series is; Implementing Landscape Ecology for Improved Sustainability and Societal Equity of Social-Ecological Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa

One of the Coordinators of the Summer Schools, also Deputy Principal of CAES, Makerere University, Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze welcoming participants to the 2023 Summer School

Objectives of the summer school series include: 1) Providing insights in recent conceptual, theoretical and technological developments in landscape ecology that enhance the UN Global Development Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063, 2) Building a network of knowledgeable, skilled and competent multidisciplinary scientists with competencies to resolve complex issues, 3) Facilitating deepening of beneficial science-practice-policy interfaces along ecological sustainability and livelihood thrivability in the midst of increasing stressor, 4) Increasing north-south and south-south networking, collaboration and partnership for increased knowledge creation and scholarship.

Prof. Christine Fürst on the left and Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal of CAES at Makerere University with other participants during the 2023 Summer School

The 2023 Summer School was sponsored by; VolkswagenStiftung, Borough Manhattan Community College, the International Association for Landscape Ecology, and Martin-Luther University-Halle-Wittenberg. It was coordinated by Prof. Yazidhi Bamutaze, Deputy Principal, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and member of staff in the Department of Geography, Geo-Informatics and Climatic Sciences, Makerere University. Other coordinators were Prof. Dr. Habil. Christine Fürst from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Dr Henry Bulley from the University of New York.

Envisaged outputs and outcomes from the summer schools include, Network of landscape ecology, increased publication, increased scholarship from African scholars, and increased collaboration and networking.

Prof. Christine Fürst led the discussion on Climate Change Adaptation in Africa

The 2023 Summer School featured several presentations in line with the theme: Ecological Governance for Socio-ecological Systems of Sub Saharan Africa. Topics discussed included; 1) Ecological Governance: from theory to practice – handled by Dr Patrick Byakagaba from the Department of Environmental Management, Makerere University; 2) Landscape Ecology: Dimensions, Systems and Tools; 3) Gendered Ecological Governance for Resilience in Africa discussed by Prof. Goretttie Nabanoga, Principal CAES; 4) Earth Observation and Geospatial Technologies for Ecological Governance in Africa (Moses Cho); 5) Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (Prof. Christine Fürst); 6) Land Sparing as the Pathway for Resilience in Africa (Raymond Katebaka); 7) Healthy Ecology: Slum Health/Informal Settlements (Raymond Tutu); 8) Landscape Analysis (Dr Henry Bulley); and 9) Cultural and Social Institutions in Ecological Governance of Disastrous Processes (Florence Wakoko). The participants were also subjected to fieldwork and data collection in Mbale District. Fieldwork activities included the excursion of Mt. Elgon and visit to Bugisu Cultural Institute.

Participants follow the proceedings of the 2023 Summer School

Issues arising from the discussions

  1. Environmental challenges are complex. Ecological governance recognizes the value of involving stakeholders in decision making. It emphasizes looking at a whole system not individual entities.
  2. Application of Ecological governance: The polluter should bear the cost of their actions. Mitigation hierarchy principle under ecological governance calls for prevention/precautionary measures against environmental degradation.
  3. In ecological governance, co-management of natural resources is provided for to promote participation and consensus.
  4. Challenges in applying ecological governance include; resistance to change due to deep-rooted beliefs, as well as policy and legislative frameworks that do not provide for ecological governance, and weak coordination among state and non-state actors.
  5. Ecological governance is an effective pathway for addressing the current environmental deterioration and enhancing environmental and social sustainability. It can facilitate harmonious co-existence between human beings and nature.
  6. Ecological governance, if adopted in African countries minimize the challenges faced in natural resources management.
  7. Ecological governance considered effective in mitigating environmental challenges.
  8. Engendering ecological governance processes is crucial.
  9. Ecological governance is about decision making. Collaboration, transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the needs and interests of the people affected by the decisions made is important in ecological governance.
  10. Principles of gendered ecological governance include; gender mainstreaming, inclusivity and participation, access to resources and knowledge, gender responsive policies and programmes, women empowerment and inter-sectionality.
Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga, Principal of CAES at Makerere University sensitized participants on the importance of gender mainstreaming in ecological governance

The 2021 Summer School was held in Kampala and Mbale Districts on the theme “Landscape Ecology in sustainable development – concepts, methods and implementation” whereas the 2022 took place in Kampala and Jinja on the theme “Cities and Urban ecological resilience”

Participants following proceedings on Day Two of the Summer School

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