The management and conservation of woody plants in Uganda's urban settings
Urban woody plant resources and the livelihoods of community members who depend on them are threatened in developing countries. This study was conducted to assess the management and conservation of woody plants in Uganda’s urban settings. The specific objectives were; 1) to identify the priority woody plants and their uses; 2) to evaluate the threats to woody plants and current management practices; and 3) to assess the community attitudes towards planting and conservation of woody plants. Data were collected using semi-structured questionnaires administered to 230 respondents. Two focus group discussions were also held to validate the information from the interviews. A total of 47 woody plant species belonging to 25 families was mentioned, of which 30 were indigenous and 17 exotic/naturalized. The common uses of woody plants were firewood (70%), edible fruits (61%), and charcoal (50%). Prioritized woody plants like Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C. Berg, Markhamia lutea (Benth.) K. Schum, and Albizia coriaria Welw. ex Oliv. were threatened, with factors contributing to their scarcity being; charcoal burning (86%), woody plant diseases (60%) and clearing land for other purposes (58%). However, introduced species like Mangifera indica L., Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam., and Persea americana Mill. were abundant due to factors such as natural regeneration (77%), easy management (75%) and drought resistance (71%). Respondents were generally interested in planting these introduced species (M. indica, A. heterophyllus and P. americana). The plants were propagated from seedlings (44%), wildings (38%), and cuttings (17%). These planting materials were obtained from respondents’ land (47%), neighbors/friends (33%) and nurseries (20%). Respondents were constrained from planting by factors such as limited capital (81%), small land holdings (75%), and lack of planting materials (73%). Most of the respondents expressed a positive attitude towards planting and conserving urban woody plants. These attitudes were significantly (P<0.05) influenced by socio-demographic factors such as level of education, household size, membership to an association, land size and land tenure system. Government should focus on these specific socio-demographic factors of the study area identified in this study if it is to provide incentives that are necessary for planting and conserving woody plant species.