The Mount Elgon Ecosystem is a large extinct volcano that straddles Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya, rising to 4,320 metres above sea level, hence making it the seventh highest Mountain in Africa. It is one of the six national parks that were formally forest reserves that Government of Uganda in the early 1990s upgraded and gazetted as National Park because of the threat of degradation and loss of biodiversity. Mt Elgon National Park is a forested montane ecosystem gazetted in 1993 as a national park. The ecosystem covers an area of about 772,300 ha, made up of 221,401 ha of protected areas and 550,899 ha of farmlands and settlements. It is an extensive complex with an overall scale of 2223km2 of which 1145km2 are on the Uganda side between 0052’ and 01025N, and between 34o14’ and 34044E. It occupies 80kms in length (North to South) and 50kms wide. It falls within the districts of Mbale, Sironko, Kapchorwa, Kween, Bukwo, Bududa and Bulambuli in Uganda and districts of Trans Nzoia and Mt Elgon in Kenya. Rural communities surround the forested component of the mountain, with subsistence agriculture being the main economic activity and livelihood security being the dominant concern.
In 2003, Kenya denoted Mt Elgon as a biosphere reserve under UNESCO and the process is underway in Uganda. The Mt Elgon ecosystem has unique biodiversity, a set of precious component ecosystems and habitats including 180,000 ha of forest and supports thousands of people both directly and indirectly. It is also catchment for important water systems contributing to the Turkwell River and Lake Turkana, to the Lake Victoria basin and to the Nile River basin via Lake Kyoga. In addition, it also has other values including biological, aesthetic, tourist, cultural, forest resources, educational, employment and carbon sink values. Overall, IUCN has listed 37 fauna species in the area as globally threatened, of which nine are endemic, making a priority species conservation area (IUCN 2005). Davenpot et al 1996 ranked Mt Elgon among the top ten most species rich forests in Uganda. Many of these values are significant and could help reduce poverty in the Ecosystem. Unfortunately, a number of the values are of global rather than local significance. Hence the local communities are bearing a disproportionately higher cost of conservation. Furthermore, the values are also under threat mainly from encroachment, grazing, illegal materials off-take, insecurity and settlement in the protected areas, among others. The Ecosystem also faces some constraints including: a hotly contested protected area boundary on the Ugandan side; and community issues such as access to natural resources, revenue sharing, problem animals, and conflict resolution.
Consequently, there have been a number of interventions by both government and Non- Government actors to address the conservation and development challenges within the ecosystem. Accordingly, Mt Elgon has received a lot of donor support to ensure that it is a secure and productive ecosystem which is sustainably managed. In addition to government agencies, other major actors within the ecosystem include the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Nature Harness Initiative, SNV, World Vision, ECOTRUST, UNDP, East African Community, ICRAF, IDRC, and Catholic Relief Services among others. The ecosystem also has a number of thematic working groups which spearhead discussions and learning lessons on key themes within the landscape. However, the thematic working groups are limited to specific stakeholders and issues, hence the need for a holistic forum that considers the various interlinkages within the ecosystem. In addition, despite all these interventions, Mt Elgon has still remained highly vulnerable, with a number of conservation and development needs to be addressed. During a Multistakeholder dialogue organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), stakeholders emphasized the need for an integrated landscape collaboration framework which provides a platform for all stakeholders within the ecosystem to discuss and coordinate Mt Elgon activities. The forum will provide avenues for sharing lessons and bridging coordination gaps while leveraging stakeholder efforts to enhance results and ensure direct policy influencing and results within the landscape.
 Uganda Wildlife Authority; Mount Elgon National Park General Management Plan 2009 – 2019.