Land use land cover dynamics and its implications on livelihoods of the Budongo forest adjacent communities, Western Uganda
Competition for land continues to increase with a corresponding rise in demand for multiple land uses and provision of ecosystem services. Land use land cover (LULC) changes are experienced in different parts of Uganda. Some studies have evaluated how these changes influence local communities’ livelihoods especially around the Budongo Central Forest Reserve. This study examined LULC dynamics and its implications on livelihoods amongst the local communities living adjacent to Budongo Central Forest Reserve. The objectives were to i) determine the Spatio-temporal LULC dynamics around the forest from 1995 to 2022, ii) examine the causes of the spatio-temporal LULC dynamics and iii) assess the implications of spatio-temporal LULC dynamics on the livelihoods of the local communities. A mixed-methods approach was applied involving satellite image classification and post-classification change detection of 1995, 2004, 2013, and 2022 images using ArcMap (Version 10.4). On the other hand, a cross sectional survey using a structured questionnaire and an interview schedule were used to collect data from 156 respondents and 17 key informants. Inferential statistical analyses of Mann-Whitney U & Kruskal Wallis H tests and Ordinary Least squares (OLS) regressions were used to infer results of the study. Results show that areas of wetlands & grasslands and forests are declining as sugarcane plantations expand due to the perceived financial gains while built up areas are expanding as the local population increases. Areas under subsistence agriculture and grasslands are growing but at a reducing rate. Results further affirms significant differences between settlement (p = 0.019) and social network and cohesion (p = 0.004) between the local community members as a result of the perceived effects of LULC changes. It is concluded that LULC in the study area is changing from being predominantly subsistence to commercial sugarcane farming. These changes are being triggered by quick monetary gains from commercial sugarcane growing and increase in migrant workers populations. These LULC changes are perceived to have affected settlements, social networks and cohesion among other livelihood aspects. There is a need to undertake participatory landscape level land use planning to ensure the LULC changes do not adversely affect the livelihoods of households in the BCFR area which is dominated by low paid migrant workers and harmonize the commercial sugarcane growing activities with other land use and land cover types.