Impact of Artisanal Gold Mining on Wetland Health in Buhweju District, Southwestern Uganda

  • Upton Nuwagira Mbarara University of Science and Technology
  • David Mubiru Mbarara University of Science and Technology
  • Igga Yasin Mbarara University of Science and Technology
  • Perfect Nasasira Mbarara University of Science and Technology
Keywords: NDVI, Remote sensing, Spatio-temporal
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Wetland degradation due to anthropogenic activities including artisanal gold mining is widely common in Uganda, and this affects vegetation health status if not controlled. However, the use of the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to determine the health status of wetlands is rare. In this study, remote sensing techniques with the use of spatial-temporal Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were used for the wetlands in Bitsya Subcounty, Buhweju district (noted for artisanal gold mining with the use of mercury) to determine the wetland health status for the period between 2012-2021. This was for the purposes of identifying target areas for intervention and developing appropriate, location-specific intervention options. 7 images of 30 * 30 m and 3 images of 10 * 10 m respectively, ortho-rectified, cloud-free Landsat and Sentinel images obtained from the USGS archive were analysed. The results showed that the high NDVI value (0.775) was detected in the year 2019 and the low NDVI value (0.068) was detected in the year 2017. The NDVI maps showed low values mostly in the middle of the wetland where artisanal gold mining was mostly taking place, indicating a huge decline in the wetland health status as compared to other wetland edges noticed with high NDVI. The results from the study suggest that the wetland policies in the study area could not be effectively implemented and this reduces the vegetation health status, threatening the functionality of the wetland and as well as loss of the free natural goods and services derived from them. This necessitates the development of wetland restoration campaigns. However, failure to implement the wetland policies may have an ecosystem impact on the wetland micro and macro-organisms, soil nutrients, and water quality as well as a decline in vegetation health


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11 September, 2023
How to Cite
Nuwagira, U., Mubiru, D., Yasin, I., & Nasasira, P. (2023). Impact of Artisanal Gold Mining on Wetland Health in Buhweju District, Southwestern Uganda. East African Journal of Environment and Natural Resources, 6(1), 297-310.