Utilization of indegenous woodland trees in and around Kachung Forest Reserve in Dokolo District, Northern Uganda
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The utilisation and conservation of indigenous trees in and around Kachung woodland forest reserve were assessed from January to June, 2009. The aim of the study was to examine the uses and conservation of the indigenous trees. Inventory of the indigenous tree species was conducted in 60 sample plots established at 50 x 50 m along six 2000 m transects, three of which were laid in the forest reserve and three outside. Semi- structured questionnaires were administered to 160 households to capture information on local people’s preference for indigenous trees, uses and use values of the trees and socioeconomic influence of local people’s attitudes towards conversion of Kachung forest reserve into a plantation. Three focus group discussions generated information on utilisation of indigenous trees and relationship between the forest managers and the local people. I tested for variation between stocking densities using one way ANOVA. Species diversity was computed using Shannon diversity index. Kruskal Wallis tests were used to test whether there were differences between use values of different preferred indigenous trees. Logistic regression analysis was used to indicate level of influence of socioeconomic factors on the local people’s attitudes towards conversion of Kachung forest reserve into a plantation. Indigenous trees in and around Kachung forest reserve were poorly conserved and had less balanced regeneration with mature trees and saplings/poles having insignificant variation of their densities within parishes. In spite of this, the tree species were highly diverse (H' = 3.14 and 2.72) for trees outside and within the reserve respectively. Indigenous trees that local people preferred and highly valued included Combretum collinum, Albizia coriaria, Albizia malacophylla, Terminalia brownii, Milicia excelca, Borassus aethiopum, Vitex doniana, Piliostigma thonningii, Grewia mollis and Ficus natalensis. All the indigenous trees encountered were useful to the local people although their use values varied (p < 0.05). Although 53% of the local people were opposed to the conversion of Kachung forest reserve into a plantation, they have now become aware of the benefits, such as employment in the reserve, provision of planting materials and infrastructural development, which can accrue to them from the plantation. Indigenous trees with more uses had higher use values than those with fewer uses. The local people (53%) were opposed to the conversion of Kachung forest reserve into a plantation. Their resentment was significantly (p < 0.05) influenced by gender, size of land owned, ownership of woodlots and proximity to the forest reserve. To ensure sustainable utilisation and conservation of indigenous trees in and around Kachung forest reserve, comprehensive conservation, management and forest (agroforestry) extension plan should be developed and implemented in collaboration with all stakeholders. The local communities should be mobilised and educated on the values of indigenous trees and the need to conserve them. Use values of indigenous trees should be enhanced by deliberate domestication and management for products such as poles, medicine, fodder, firewood, oil and fruits. To reduce conflicts between forest managers and the local people, collaborative forest management is desirable in Kachung forest reserve and future change in status of natural resources should consider the interests of the local communities. A study of the agroforestry potential, propagation methods, indirect benefits of the plantation/reserve to the local people and level of utilisation of indigenous trees in and around Kachung forest reserve is necessary for effective promotion of their protection and conservation.