The ecological changes of Echuya afromontane bamboo forest, Uganda
Abwoli, Y. Banana
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Echuya forest reserve was gazetted in 1939 and was then mainly a bamboo forest with very few hardwood trees. However, the current ecological situation shows that hardwood trees are replacing bamboo. This study analysed the current ecological situation in relationship to past ecological changes and influences. Line transects were laid systematically at 1000m intervals across the forest in order to describe the current vegetation variation. Echuya forest has changed in size and composition from 1954 to the present. The area occupied by pure bamboo has decreased from 20.5% to 12.5%. bamboo-hard wood mixture decreased from 48.2% to 26.2% and pure hardwood stands increased, from 16% to 51%. It can be suggested that the exclusion of fire, herbivores and human activities after reservation of Echuya have gradually led to the conversion of the grassland~bamboo ecosystem into a hardwood forest ecosystem. Macaranga kilimandscharia Pax. is the major colonizing hardwood tree species. Most of the gaps are covered with heavy loads of Mimulopsis species climbers, which suppress bamboo growth.