Assessing the level of vegetation recovery on the restored oil drilled sites in Murchison falls national park in Uganda
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The increased global demand for energy has amplified the risks to biodiversity conservation from oil and gas exploration, development, and production projects in different parts of the world. Oil and gas exploration in Uganda has impacted, degraded, and altered the original vegetation cover and plant community growth patterns in the affected sites. These changes in the land cover have important implications for wild species of animals in terms of animal feeding habits, breeding, and praying ground. There is widespread interest in the level of vegetation recovery on the former oil drilled sites in Murchison falls. This study was set out to assess the level of vegetation recovery in former oil drilled sites with the specific objectives of identifying the level of vegetation recovery on the former Oil drilled sites, identifying early new colonizers on Oil drilled site and identifying the quality of the vegetation cover on the former oil drilled sites. The study employed a descriptive design and quantitative methods of data collection was used. A total of 15 randomly located transects distributed across two land-use types between 10 by 10 feet and was placed at least 100 meters from each other in each land-use type were laid. The findings of the study depicted that the level of vegetation recovery on the former oil drilled site is significantly high as 84.8% of the former oil drilled site was covered predominantly by grasses. There were a total of 42 new colonizers belonging to 20 families and the new predominant new colonizer included Galactia tenuflora and Astripomoea and concerning plant family, most of the new colonizers belonged Fabaceae family. Lastly, the vegetation in the recovery site is of good quality as most of the trees were straight and had a dbh of over 141 cm while the grasses were significantly tall. The study therefore recommended that environmental institutions such as NEMA should be supported in various capacities to ensure they perform effective work of monitoring the Impact mitigation plans of Oil Company’s involved in oil drilling to track if a project is an ecological success or a failure. This is because the vegetation which was on-site during the study might not have been the target vegetation for recovery on the former oil drilled sites. Further research is required to establish the community structural traits of the successional vegetation (such as species diversity and biomass) and identifying potential facilitator species are useful steps in assessing the recovery ability of plant communities to anthropogenic disturbances, and in designing restoration strategies.