Institutions, utilisation and conservation of indigenous woody plants in Pader internally displaced persons’ (idp) camps, Northern Uganda
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An assessment of institutional and policy interventions for conservation of indigenous woody plants (IWPs) during armed conflicts was undertaken in and around internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Pader district, Northern Uganda. The specific objectives of the study were to: assess utilization of and conservation strategies for indigenous woody plants in and around IDP camps; determine the diversity, dominance, abundance and density of indigenous woody plants commonly utilized in and around IDPs camps; analyze institutional interventions related to conservation of indigenous woody plants during and after armed conflict; and document policy and legal interventions related to conservation of indigenous woody plants in and around the IDP camps. The study involved a survey of 160 households in 4 IDP camps, 39 NGOs/CBOs, 9 government institutions and Acholi Cultural Institution. Focus group discussion, key informant interview, semi structured interviews and tree inventory techniques were used to collect data. Tree species diversity and dominance were calculated using Menhinick’s and Shannon’s indices and Berger-Parker dominance index respectively. Most of the respondents (91%) used indigenous woody plants for firewood. The socio-demographic factors such as sex, household size, educational level and age significantly influenced (P≤0.05) use of indigenous woody plants for firewood, medicine and fruits indicating high dependence of IDPs on tree resources. The most preferred species were Vitellaria paradoxa, Lonchocarpus laxiflorus, Ziziphus abyssinica, Pseudocedrela kotschyi and Combretum collinum for their various products. The highly rated conservation strategy was use of the cultural law and local bye-law. The diversity of IWPs was generally higher nearer IDP camps and decreased with distance from camp centre. The most preferred IWPs had low abundance and dominance indices in and around IDP camps indicating high human pressure exerted on them. The size class distribution generally showed a decreasing number of stems per hectare as tree size increased indicating human pressure on mature trees and a threat to future regeneration of some tree species. One way ANOVA showed significant difference (P≤0.05) in size class distribution in Lakoga and Patongo IDP camps as distance increased from camp centre hence, reflecting good conservation practice. The existing natural resources management policies and laws, the IDP Policy and NGO Policy in Uganda did not have specific provisions for optimal conservation of IWPs resources in woodland areas during resettlement of IDPs. Since there is high dependence on IWPs for firewood in and around IDP camps interventions such as training women on use of energy saving cooking stoves, promoting tree planting and community sensitization are recommended. Conservation efforts geared towards protecting the most preferred IWPs and other mature tree species need to be undertaken in Pader district. The existing national natural resources management policies and laws need to be amended to enhance conservation of IWPs in resettlement areas. The cultural law, bye-law and traditional conservation practices need to be strengthened to support conservation effort. There is need by government, through National Planning Authority to develop recovery, rehabilitation and long term reconstruction programmes with appropriate environmental action to conservation of indigenous trees in northern Uganda.