The Entebbe Botanic Gardens, Uganda
Volume 2 Number 3 - May 1994
Doroth Ouchi Ssekadde
The Entebbe Botanic Gardens are situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria (long. 32º29'E.,at. 0º04' N.). They receive an average annual rainfall of 1,626.4 mm and lie at 1,134 m (3,720 ft) above sea-level. The garden lies within the township of Entebbe in the southern part of Uganda and 21 miles from Kampala, the capital. It occupies c.35 ha and at one time had a collection of 2,500 species of plants of tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperature zones. The number dwindled due to neglect during the perod of the country's political turmoil, but currently the collections are being upgraded.
A Brief History
In the years after its establishment in 1898, the garden was very active in plant introduction from many parts of the world. Crop species of foreign origin such as cocoa, coffee, tea and rubber were introduced and evaluated. Uganda's varied agroclimatic conditions offered a good opportunity for these plants to grow and they have become the main cash-crops of the country. Experiments on economic crops have been taken over by the Agricultural Experimental Stations such as those at Kawanda, Namulonge and Serere, a move which contributed to the neglect suffered by the Entebbe Botanic Gardens from the scientific community.
The garden has until recently served simply as an area for public recreation and enjoyment, with no attempt made to develop its considerable potential as a systematic collection of plants, and as a centre for research and education. This education is urgently needed for people from all walks of life, from policy makers to the botanic garden staff. The garden has not been equipped with areas for children or the disabled.
The staff includes:
a) The curator
b) One assistant curator
c) One officer responsible for the cut-flower garden and potted plants
d) One officer for plant propagation
e) One officer for the medicinal plant garden
f) One clerical officer
g) One part-time consultant
Since October 1990, efforts are being directed towards the following objectives:
- Garden maintenance and improvement, which involves construction of three pit-latrines and ten concrete garden chairs.
- Nursery work, which involves germination of seeds of timber and fruit trees, ornamental trees and some grasses; vegetative propagation of shrubs, herbaceous plants and some grasses.
- Establishment of a medicinal plant garden
- Establishment of a cut-flower and indoor garden.
- Compost-making to encourage organic gardening.
It is unfortunate that garden design work is not possible because the garden is unfenced, making it vulnerable to grazing cattle.
- The integration of conservation activities with agricultural and genetic resources development.
- The educational and recreational potential of the gardens will be realized through the development of facilities and services that will benefit both residents and tourists alike.
- Public involvement in the work of the botanic garden and extension into the community will be a priority.
- The screening of native plants for utility and possible economic production.
- A scheme to establish collaboration with relevant institutions in the development and production of native wild plant species of economic and educational value e.g. medicinal plants, wild fruits, fibres, spices, fuel-wood and forage crops.
- Establishment of ethnobotanical gardens, if possible in each district.