Views and perception of local community on challenges to management and conservation of wetlands in Kyeizooba Sub County, Bushenyi District.
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The study was undertaken to examine the view and perceptions of local community on challenges to management and conservation of wetlands in Kyeizooba Sub County, Bushenyi District. Three parishes of Bwera, Kitagata, and Rutoma were chosen. From these, 115 respondents, in addition seven key informants who included District Environmental Officer, District Agricultural Officer, Sub County Chief, Three head teachers from each parish and the District Fisheries Officer were selected. They all totaled up to 122 respondents that participated in the survey. The selection of the respondents was based on accessibility and utilization of the wetland resources. Data on perceived activities in wetlands, views concerning impact of these activities on wetlands and also factors determining different land use in these wetlands, was collected and recommendations for sustainable management of these wetlands were made. The data was analyzed using the statistical package of SPSS (Version 12.0). It was used to generate tables, graphs, Pie Charts and Pearson Correlations were the results, discussions and conclusions were based. The identified major factors leading to encroachment of wetlands in Kyeizooba include; need for income, decreasing soil fertility in the upland soils, prolonged drought or climate changes, increasing land security in the upland, value of wetland plants and animal biodiversity, and dormant laws. These have led to excessive harvesting of wetland products and vegetation clearing for cultivation. Other perceived activities done in wetlands include; brick making, livestock grazing and sand and clay mining. This study has observed that both plant and animal biodiversity has been lost due to different agricultural practices and other land use in wetlands which they perceive to be more beneficial other than conserving wetlands. All this, is further threatening the existence of the remaining wetlands. Pressure factors mainly population increase and poverty has made the perceptions of local people difficult to change and conserve wetlands. They see these wetlands as their immediate alternative to support their livelihood by supporting different activities. As a result, there is an urgent need for integrated land use planning in Kyeizooba Sub County, as well as enforcement of the existing laws that aim at conservation of wetland resources that seem to be dormant. A lot of effort is also need in education and awareness of wetlands values to change people’s perception and realize that conserving wetlands is more beneficial than degrading it for various activities.