East African Crude Oil Pipeline and Protected Areas: StopEACOP!

Impacted Protected Areas

The oil pipeline would directly or indirectly impact the following areas:

Burigi-Biharamulo Game Reserves

Recognized as an IUCN Cat IV site in Tanzania. Spanning approximately 350,000 hectares, the Burigi-Biharamulo. Game Reserves comprise of two separate reserves that are managed as a single unit. It lies within the Lake Victoria Basin, and is home to approximately 400 wildlife species, including a rare species of antelope105. The Lake Victoria Basin is a critical source of fresh water and livelihoods in the region. However, the area is already under threat; according to the IUCN, “76% of freshwater species endemic to the basin are threatened with extinction, and the risk of species extinctions is increasing”

Ngorongoro National Park

Recognized as a World Heritage site in 1979. Covering more than 800,000 hectares, Ngorongoro National Park is recognized as a rich area for studying human evolutionary processes, providing evidence which dates back as far back as 3.6 million years. The park is also renowned for its superlative natural beauty. The park contains the largest, unbroken caldera in the world, and is where millions of animals such as wildebeest pass through every year. According to UNESCO, “The stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet”. It is also home to the semi-nomadic Maasai, who practice traditional agricultural methods.

Murchison Falls-Albert Delta

Wetland System, recognized as a Ramsar site in 2006. The Murchison Falls-Albert Delta Wetland System encompasses rolling savannas, woodlands, forest patches, and bodies of water, and is an important breeding ground for numerous fish species that feed into the Lake Albert fisheries. It provides critical habitat for waterbirds such as shoebills, pelicans, and herons. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Uganda.

Lutembe Bay Wetland System

Recognized as a Ramsar site in 2006. The Lutembe Bay Wetland System is a 95 hectare area in Uganda that is recognized as an important bird area, providing habitat to globally threatened species of birds, endangered fish species, and rare butterfly species. It also plays an important role in the region’s hydrological system, serving as a natural water filter.

Taala Forest Reserve

Ugandan protected area. The Taala Forest Reserve is a part of Uganda’s system of National Forest Reserves, covering an area of approximately 8,800 hectares. It is recognized as a large savanna reserve and as an important biodiversity conservation site.

Bugoma Forest

Ugandan protected area. At more than 40,000 hectares in size, the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Uganda ranks 11th overall in terms of biodiversity value and 15th in terms of rarity value among the 65 forested Protected Areas in Uganda. It is home to a vast array of forest dependent and biome-restricted species, including two globally threatened bird species; four globally threatened mammal species; nine mammal species in the IUCN red list; one Albertine Rift amphibian species; seven Albertine Rift endemic trees and shrubs; twelve globally threatened species of fauna; and fourteen trees and shrubs that can be found in the IUCN red list.


Reserve, recognized as a marine protected area bordering Tanzania and Kenya. Located at the border of Tanzania and Kenya, the Pemba-Shimoni-Kisite Reserve includes within its boundaries the Kisite Marine Park, the biggest no-take zone in Kenya, as well as the Mpunguti Marine Reserve, Kenya’s smallest. Kisite is also acknowledged to be an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The entire reserve comprises of coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests, among others. It covers 50% of the coral reefs in Tanzania, and is home to a high diversity of marine life, including turtles, dolphins, and dugongs.

Tanga Coelacanth Marine

Park, recognized as a marine protected area. The Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park spans approximately 55,000 hectares. Rich in biodiversity, it was recognized as a marine protected area primarily due to the presence of coelacanths, which are counted among the world’s rarest fish species.

Wembere Steppe Key

Biodiversity Area, in Tanzania. The Wembere Steppe Key Biodiversity Area covers approximately 160,000 hectares, and is composed primarily of grasslands. It is home to settlements of Wasukama and Wataturu pastoralists, as well as the Karamoja Apalis, a globally recognized vulnerable species of warbler.

The high number of protected areas impacted by the pipeline clearly reflects the region’s exceptional ecological and biodiversity value. By cutting through nationally and internationally recognized high value conservation areas and wildlife corridors, as well as attracting associated infrastructure such as service roads, the pipeline would likely cause or exacerbate an array of environmental risks.

Examples include:

Endangered and endemic species: The pipeline would destroy, disturb, fragment, and degrade critical wildlife habitat and corridors for endangered and endemic species, impacting roughly 2000 square km of protected wildlife habitat. Endangered species include the chimpanzee, sea turtles, and dugongs, as well as endemic fish and freshwater species. Preventing habitat fragmentation is particularly important in order to protect critical wildlife corridors and migration routes used by African elephants, zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, among other species in the region.

Deforestation: The project will destroy vast parts of the Taala Forest Reserve.

Water: As the pipeline cuts through the Lake Victoria Basin, it will negatively impact freshwater sources. Testing and constructing the pipeline requires significant water resources, which may trigger a cascade of increasing risks to wildlife and affected communities. This is particularly problematic given the existing water scarcity in the region.

Pollution and Waste: As a pipeline, the project bears a high likelihood for oil spills and seepage into the Lake Victoria Basin. Furthermore, cleaning the pipeline generates hazardous waste containing benzene, which is a carcinogen. Its disposal is additionally problematic as it will either be incinerated, causing air pollution, or transported and stored in a pumping station.

Climate change: As a project designed to facilitate the extraction and use of fossil fuels, EACOP will have serious climate impacts. If the pipeline is developed, it is expected to produce over 33 million tons of carbon emissions per year during peak production. This amount would exceed the total combined emissions of Uganda and Tanzania, and likely stymie both countries from meeting the Paris Agreement.

The pipeline would also engender a number of negative social risks, including:

Land Acquisition, Resettlement, Inadequate Compensation, and Harassment: Around 13,000 households across Uganda and Tanzania, accounting for more than 86,000 individuals, have lost or will lose land as a result of the EACOP, with resettlement needed for approximately 200 and 330 households in Uganda and Tanzania respectively. A further 4,865 households (amounting to 31,716 individuals) are additionally affected by the Tilenga oil project. In sum, both projects are expected to directly impact the land of around 118,000 individuals. However, community members have reported low compensation and unfair resettlement. The project has also been marred by a lack of transparency with inadequate stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, community members or activists who oppose the project have faced harassment, intimidation, and retaliation.

Economic Displacement: About a third of the pipelineis located in the Lake Victoria Basin, which supports the livelihoods of more than 30 million people in the region. Many affected communities rely on farming and livestock rearing, and so resettlement would likely dispossess them of their livelihoods.

Stunting the Tourism Industry: Along the same vein, the tourism industry supports many communities in the region. However, the pipeline and related oil fields are encroaching and impacting protected areas, many of which are major tourism destinations. This would effectively stymie and prevent sustainable tourism development. For instance, Burigi-Biharamulo Game Reserves, Ngorongoro National Park, and Murchison Falls are all major tourism sites. Furthermore, the promise of jobs is overstated. Although the pipeline would require 5000 jobs, only 300 would be permanent, offering far fewer job opportunities than the tourism industry.

Gender Impacts: Women are likely to be disproportionately affected, as they would bear the brunt of the project’s negative impacts. These include carrying the burden of relocation changes, losing income due to loss of traditional livelihoods, and facing increased gender-based violence due to the influx of male workers to the project.

Enough reasons to StopEACOP!

More on the risks and on why it is important to stop here: World Heritage Forever?