Echuya is a montane rainforest in south-western Uganda, adjoining the border with Rwanda. Covering 34 square kilometres, the forest includes a high-altitude swamp called Muchuya. The forest cover is approximately 80 per cent mature macaranga kilimandscharica and hagenia abyssinica and 20 per cent mountain bamboo yushania alpina.
Echuya lies in the Albertine Rift section of the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot, the most endemic-rich region in Africa. Muchuya swamp is home to an important population of 30-50 pairs of the endangered Grauer's swamp-warbler and the entire reserve is considered a priority amongst BirdLife International's 30 Ugandan Important Bird Areas (IBAs).
Echuya is situated in one of the most densely populated and poorest agricultural regions of Uganda. Its long-term conservation depends on the support of the surrounding population. Prior to RSPB/NU's involvement, access to forest resources was legally restricted, but in practice unenforced. Local communities (Bachiga and Bafumbira farmers and the marginalised Batwa pygmies) lacked the capacity to negotiate Collaborative Forest Management agreements which would permit them to access resources legally and to conserve them. The result was destructive, illegal harvesting and conflict with National Forestry Authority.
Species affected (not UK birds)
The forest has 152 species of recorded birds, including 18 Albertine Rift endemics (handsome francolin, Ruwenzori turaco, Ruwenzori nightjar, kivu ground-thrush, red-throated alethe, Archer's robin-chat, collared apalis, black-faced apalis, Grauer's swamp-warbler, red-faced woodland warbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Ruwenzori batis, stripe-breasted tit, blue-headed sunbird, regal sunbird, purple-breasted sunbird, dusky crimson-wing, strange weaver).