Agoro-Agu Forest Reserve in Northern Uganda shares many of the same complexities that other communities bordering forest reserves face such as biodiversity loss, land protection, and subsequent encroachment, but unlike many around the world, East Africa, or within the country, the communities of this Parish are uniquely pressed by a panoply of sociopolitical historical and present-day challenges. From the armed take-over of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the fall-out from the Sudanese Civil War, to a continual stream of internationally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees fleeing fallow lands and social conflict in South Sudan, these events have exacerbated deforestation, resource depletion, and issues of contested land tenure and land use sustainability.
Communities bordering the Agoro-Agu Forest Reserves are at a pivotal land use planning juncture. After years of military conflict and deforestation, subsequent abandonment and regrowth, and now re-habitation, strategic land-use planning is critical. Can gender and social inclusion in land management propel an integrated plan for sustainable community land use? Through gender-integrated participatory research and strategic community dialogues, the communities around Agoro-Agu can integrate Land-Use priorities into sustainable land management plans that could have the potential to leverage greater political stability, gender equity, and economic growth in the region for decades to come.