Ugandan rainforests are home to over 450 different indigenous tree species of which more than 50% can be found in Tooro Botanical Gardens arboretum, established in order to display and conserve the flora and fauna of the region and beyond. Seeds and vegetative planting materials are continually being collected from the nearby Kibale Forest National Park and other forest reserves in Uganda and East Africa and are raised in our propagation unit to be planted in the Gardens. This is the largestex-situ conservation undertaking in the country and serves and will continue to serve as a gene pool to protect regional and national biodiversity. It also provides education materials for local communities, students and researchers as most of the species are rare to find in the remaining forest reserves. By the year ending 2013, over 230 indigenous tree and shrub species and over 150 other plant species had already been planted in the gardens. The TBG arboretum is also home to over sixty bird species which enjoy the variety of trees and the abundance of food. In the next seven years, TBG aims to have all trees and shrub species of Uganda represented in the 50 acre arboretum and also plans to start research into the bird species found here.
The edible plant garden
Adjacent to the herbarium is a display of over 30 species of edible wild and domesticated plants and fruit trees, indigenous vegetables and different banana species from the region. Most of these are local varieties and areeither being threatened by exotic or hybridspecies or a disappearing due changes in climate, soils and as a result of human activities and other environmental factors. The wild varieties are currently undergoing domestication trials which will hopefully later lead to production capabilities. Furthermore, documentation and research into over 16 varieties of bananas whose functions range from beer making, juice making, sweet bananas and also those for cooking. In the next five years TBG proposes to have domesticated at least five wild food plants and introduce them to local markets.
Tooro Botanical Gardens collects, presses, safely stores and records Ugandanplant specimens and this database is used by the community, researchers and students to facilitate the correct identification of Ugandan flora. This delicate work started in 2008 and, to date, counts more than 300 specimens on labelled vouchers. Our specialists in the field of taxonomy are still exploring forests weekly to collect species for description, propagation and to further the herbarium collections.
Medicinal Plant Garden
One of the major activities of TBG is the promotion of traditional herbs and spices and our trained staff maintain dry, process and market these locally. A large number of these, both indigenous and exotic, are cultivated within the gardens and can be purchased at the reception. Some species are only seasonably available but in general the following species can be found; Artemisia annua (malaria treatment and prevention), Prunusafricana, WarbugiaUgandensis,Ocimumbasilicum, various species of mint (Mentha spp.) andHibiscus sabdariffa whose flower calyxes are processed to produce the famous karkade tea. Visitors may also walk through the medicinal plant garden in the northern part of the garden to see more than thirty medicinal tree, shrub and herb species on display as well as demonstrations of Centellaasiatica and Prunusafricana.
Dye plant Garden
The Batooro tribe is well-known for its colourful handcrafts, such as baskets, shopping bags and furniture. To guard against the disappearance of this knowledge, TBG has developed a programme to promote the domestication and conservation of natural dye plants. Today, numerous trees, shrubs and herbs, are cultivated to produce dyes, for coloured fibres (handcraft), food colouring, clothes colouration and local nail vanish and lipstick. Soon the plants will be processed in TBG and colour extraction processes will be employed in varying degrees according to the species, to obtain yellow, orange, brown, green and black dyes among others.
Endangered Species Island.
At the heart of garden is the endangered species island which acts as a rescue centre for endangered species.Key speciesinclude the Critically Endangered Mpanga Falls cycad, Encephalartoswhitelockii,whichwas previously classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN based on its restricted habitat and small area of occupancy and occurrence at only a single location. At the time of initial assessment there was no evidence of decline, however, in May, 2007, approval was given for the construction of a hydroelectric plant above the waterfall where the plants occur and construction work began in 2008. The construction has resulted in a decline in the population. Although a management plan was developed, the construction and increased access to the site has led to a steady reduction in the plants numbers.
TBG has taken the initiative to protect this species both in situ and exsitu at the garden and other selected places and is currently managing the implementation of program designed to protect the plant from extinction, funded by the IUCN / SOSpecies. This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. For further information regarding this project and the impact it is happening please see the SOSpecies website below:
Bio-fuel Plants Garden
Local communities are faced with fuel problems as more and more people have resorted to living in towns and trading centres where access to traditional fuel materials such as wood are limited. Due to the high costs of living attributed with urban settlements and high electricity charges people are using charcoal and other unclean sources of energy for fuel and this has resulted in deforestation of regional forests. To address this issue TBG has established a bio-fuel demonstration garden with trees such as candlenut, Aleuritesmoluccana that can be processed into fuel energy products.
Palm and cycad Garden
This newly opened garden is targeting over 90 palm and cycad species by the year 2017. At present 16 species have been planted and collections of further species are on-going.
Rare Hardwood Species Garden
This section is set aside for African hard wood species which are fast disappearing due to over harvesting and almost always without replanting. Currently five species have been planted(List the five species here)and collections in local forests are on-going to increase this number and create a future source of seeds.