The influence of internally displaced persons' settlements on the abundance, diversity and conversation of indigenous tree resources in the Shea Park-lands of Northern Uganda
A study to assess the influence of Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) settlements on the abundance, diversity and conservation of shea parkland tree resources was carried out in Lira and Pader districts, Northern Uganda, between March 2007 and February 2008. The specific objectives were to: document ethno uses of major indigenous tree species, assess on-farm traditional management and conservation strategies of shea parkland tree resources and analyze related policies and bye-laws with influence on conservation of indigenous trees in the shea parkland. Both socio-economic and tree inventory data were collected from Lira and Pader districts. One hundred eighty households were interviewed and tree inventory was conducted in 240 plots of 50 m by 40 m. Results of the study showed that over 90% of the respondents purposely used shea and other indigenous trees for firewood and construction purposes. The major traditional tree management strategies included protecting naturally regenerating individuals when opening farmlands, weeding, early burning and use of taboos/bye-laws. The willingness of the respondents to protect and plant shea on- farms was significantly influenced by marital status and duration of stay in the area (P<0.05). Both relative abundance and diversity of indigenous tree species generally varied with distance from the camp centre. Most existing natural resource policies in Uganda do not promote optimal implementation of improved traditional management practices in the shea parklands. For example, forest policies which do not recognize secondary-right of trees to land owners make it difficult for people in IDP camps to effectively implement traditional tree management practices. To improve planning and implementation of sustainable parklands’ resources management, extended surveys and research on indigenous knowledge of useful tree species and their uses need to be carried out. Results from the surveys can then be used to plan for appropriate tree planting, reforestation and shea parklands rehabilitation in the former IDP camps. To ensure local communities’ full participation in the conservation of indigenous trees, both the local and central governments need to plan and execute appropriate awareness training and extension programmes targeting shea and other useful trees in the shea parklands.