Contribution of commonly used wild plants towards livelihoods of communities around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
A study on contribution of commonly used wild plants towards livelihoods was carried out in Butogota Town Council neighbouring Bwindi Impenetrable National park. The utilisation of wild plants and products is increasingly becoming an important phenomenon in conservation. With global loss of biodiversity caused by habitat loss and global climate change, the availability of the range of plant resources of livelihood value is under threat in poor rural communities worldwide (Alroy, 2017). The objective of this study was to document the contribution of wild plants to community livelihoods and their conservation status around BINP. A cross-sectional survey design was employed with both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Data was collected from 96 randomly selected households using a questionnaire that was analysed using sustainable livelihood framework conceptual model. Data was also collected from 5 key informants and 6 focus group discussions. In addition, ecological and observation methods were undertaken to collect ecological data on plants species. Results showed 42 wild plant species belonging to 31 genera and 28 families were harvested and used by the park neighbouring communities. Results revealed that the wild plants were mainly used for basketry (63%), medicine (15%), wood (8%) and as food/edible (4%). The study further revealed that the high level of use of wild plants largely attributed to traditional beliefs and as the only alternative source of income. Results showed that wild plant resources contribute 6.32% to the monthly household income. The study revealed that availability of wild plant species, accessibility of wild plants, demand and marketability of the plant, distance travelled to harvest the wild plants, and authority to access were the major factors that influenced use of wild plants. The results also indicate that small proportion of community members were knowledgeable about wild plant conservation although households were willing to domesticate wild plants. The main constraints faced by community members in harvesting wild plants were: Restriction and arrest by UWA staff and extinction of some wild plants. UWA challenges were: illegal harvest of wild plants and climate change. It is therefore recommended that UWA, local government and partner conservation agencies should strengthen the initiatives of local people to domesticate wild plants by supporting training on management and supply of seedlings to reduce dependency on the forest resources.