Contribution of traditional knowledge towards sustainable use, conservation and management of Afzelia africana in north western Uganda
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Afzelia africana is under threat in Uganda due to excessive exploitation, despite the ban on the harvest of the species and its products.Further, there is a dearth of information on the status, use, perceived value, ecological importance and management of the species in Uganda.This study therefore set out to document the traditional Knowledge, management and Utilization of A. africana in North Western Uganda. Specifically, the study (i) determined the traditional uses and value of A. africana, (ii) assessed the relationships between socio-economic variables and local use of A. africana,(iii) determined the community perception of the abundance and distribution of A. africana and (iv) assessed the harvesting, management and conservation practices of A. africana among communities in Yumbe district, Uganda.This study adopted a stratified random sampling technique where the target population was stratified at two levels based on gender and age. Data was collected among 200 households, through a cross-sectional survey using semi-structured household interviews and key informant interviews with 10 Key Informants. Both quantitative and qualitative information was collected in a cross-sectional survey. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, Organ Use Value andEthnobotanical use value. The findings showed that A. africana is a multipurpose tree that is extensively exploited for material, social, fuel wood and medicinal purposes, respectively, by all household members. It emerged that age, gender, and sociocultural groups are determinants of traditional knowledge and use value of plant species with a negative correlation observed between age and use of Afzelia africana. Also men utilized Afzelia africana more than the females in the study area however,similarities in the utilisation were observed among gender groups in different tribes.In the study, A. africana is distributed across several habitats though it mainly occurred in the protected areas. The study confirmed that A. africana is rare (92%) majorly because of excessive harvest for logs (78.5%) and not actively protected(59%) by the locals. According to the respondents, A.africana majorly required nosilvicultural management(47%), however on farmland and around human settlements, some management interventions included pruning (27%), weeding (17%) and mulching (12%) among others. Also, most(52%) of the locals are aware of the ban on the harvest of A.africana and its products but argue that it would not impact the traditional management practices and also not halt the over exploitation of the A. africana in the study area. Some locals (41%), indicated that A. africanawas conserved / protected in the community because it was a multipurpose tree(36.1%), aided in rainfall formation(23.9%) and disaster regulation(16.1%).The study recommends that actions that encourage the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge of Afzelia africana should be put in place. These should include the socio-cultural groups according to their knowledge and preferential uses. Further, the traditional conservation and management practices including rules, taboos and sanctions should be adopted in conservation efforts. Harvesting of the species in protected areas should be prohibited with serious penalties for the culprits.