Conservation of priority woody species in Bunya County Mayuge District.
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Plant species all over the world are threatened with extinction especially those that contribute to the well being of humans in areas they exist. This is due to their existence on farmlands with minimal protection unlike when they are in protected areas. Outside protected areas plant species are at risk of destructive methods of harvesting. This calls for interventions of sustainable utilization which requires as a first step knowledge of which species are most preferred and an understanding of the peoples’ attitudes towards conservation. This study was conducted to generate data that would contribute to the management for conservation and sustainable use of woody plant resources in Uganda. The study was conducted in Bunya County Mayuge District. The specific objectives of the study were to determine 1) the most preferred tree species and why they are preferred, 2) conservation status of tree species and 3) existing tree management practices and challenges to tree planting. This study was conducted between July and September 2012 using an ethnobotanical approach. Seventy seven woody species species are highly valued by communities in Bunya County. Species like Mangifera indica, Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam., Persea americana Mill., Milicia excelsa, Markhamia lutea, Maesopsis eminii are among the most valued species. The species are multi-purpose and provide edible fruits, timber, poles, fuel wood and are a source of income for the communities. Tree management practices include planting, pruning to encourage sprouting and protection against damage. The conservation status of species like, Albizia coriaria, Ficus sycomorus and Citrus sinensis is threatened and the major threats are high demand for timber, high population growth, sugar cane growing and poor propagation methods. Farmers in Bunya County mostly value tree species which play a major role in their livelihoods by reducing hunger and increasing incomes (70%). Farmers are interested in tree planting and are actively involved in tree planting. The priority species prioritized in this study are recommended for future tree planting campaigns with farmers. Farmers also need inputs for tree growing such as seedlings, pesticides and farm implements among others. They need attention and solving both by government and development organizations interested in environmental conservation. There is need to study markets of tree products in this area and other parts of Uganda to understand the value chain. Further research on propagation behavior of woody species especially indigenous ones, to determine the best stock to use to improve production needs.