Silvicultural practices in the management of Pinus caribaea and Eucalyptus grandis plantations in Uganda
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This study assessed farmers’ silvicultural practices and the performance of their plantations and constraints faced in the management of Pinus caribaea and Eucalyptus grandis plantations in Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Mubende districts in Uganda. These districts were selected due to existing farmer-owned plantations and Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) initiatives that support plantation development. Data were collected between January and July, 2010 through pre-tested structured questionnaire, key informant interviews and field measurements. It was found that the main silvicultural practices carried out by farmers were ground preparation, lining out, pitting, weeding, fireline maintenance, pruning and thinning. A significant variation was observed in activities of ground preparation (X2=11.4, P≤ 0.001) and pruning (X2=5.8, P≤ 0.05) of forest plantations across the districts. Majority of farmers in Bundibugyo and Kabarole districts used only manual methods of ground preparation while those in Mubende district used a combination of both manual and chemical methods. Across the three districts, spacing was observed to vary significantly in both Pinus caribaea (X2=20.9, P≤ 0.05) and Eucalyptus grandis (X2=16.5, P≤ 0.05) plantations, and the most common spacing was 2.0 x 2.0 m and 3.0 x 3.0 m. The age of first pruning was observed to vary significantly in both Pinus caribaea (X2=15.7, P≤ 0.05) and Eucalyptus grandis (X2=26.1, P≤ 0.001) plantations across the three districts, but the age of first thinning was observed to vary significantly (X2= 25.3, P≤0.001) only in Pinus caribaea plantations. First pruning was done between the age of three and four years in Pinus caribaea plantations and two to three years for Eucalyptus grandis plantations. First thinning was done between the age of three and four years in Pinus caribaea plantations while in Eucalyptus grandis plantations it was done between the age of two and four years. The study revealed that the volume per hectare of Pinus caribaea plantations increased with initial spacing of 3.0 x 4.0 m and 3.0 x 2.0 m as compared to initial spacing of 1.5 x 1.5m. The study also showed that basal area per hectare was influenced by ground preparation methods, initial spacing and the thinning age of Pinus caribaea. In Eucalyptus grandis plantations, the study revealed that initial spacing of 3.0 x 2.0 m compared to 1.5 x 1.5m significantly increased the volume per hectare. Although most farmers in Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Mubende districts were aware of basic silvicultural practices for Pinus caribaea and Eucalyptus grandis plantations, most of them did not carry out the standard practices. There is need to further build the capacity of these farmers through training and material support in order to improve the management of their Pinus caribaea and Eucalyptus grandis plantations.