Forest conservation practices of communities living around Mabira Forest Reserve, Uganda
The aim of the study was to find out the various conservation practices used by communities living around Mabira Forest Reserve and the factors influencing the use of the practices in addition to forest resources benefits in an attempt to curb the problem of deforestation. Four parishes around Mabira Forest Reserve were selected from near and far away from main road since distance from the main road determined the size of land owned and source of income of the respondents. The parishes which were selected included; Nsakya parish, Kinoni parish, Buwoola parish and Kkonko. In each village, the households were randomly selected sampled and data was collected from house to heads, forest rangers and managers using questionnaires, checklists, and interview guides. The direct forest resource benefits that were reported to be used by communities living around Mabira Forest Reserve included firewood, construction poles, and medicine, among others. Indirect benefits included; rainfall and soil conservation among others. Most of the community members reported that they collected firewood from forest which they used for either subsistence or commercial purposes from the forest and this accelerates it’s deforestation. The major forest conservation practices that were used included; agro forestry, reforestation, use of fuel wood saving stoves, and regulated harvest of dry branches of tress from forest. Poverty and lack of land ownership security were the major factors, which influenced the use of various forest conservation practices by the community members. Majority of the community members living around Mabira forest reserve lacked formal education, which limited their income generating ability. Farming heavily competed with tree planting and conservation in gardens especially in households that had very small pieces of land and large family sizes. Most of household earned little or no income per annum generated from sales of agricultural crops and therefore, depended on forest products for income generation Agro forestry was mostly influenced by land ownership and size. The use of fuel wood saving stoves by different respondents was influenced by lack of materials and lack of the knowledge about how to make the stoves while regulated harvesting of hardwood trees in gardens was influenced by the poor relationship between forest authority and community members.
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