Implications of Uganda Forestry Policy 2001 reform on forest land tenure security and livelihoods
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Sustainable forest management involves a system that is ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible and requires good understanding and knowledge of community dynamics, forest land tenure regimes and ecosystems. Forest land tenure security can protect forests against degradation and deforestation and impact positively on economic and social wellbeing of local communities, promote local participation, ownership and decision making in forest management. The aim of the study was to deepen the understanding of the Uganda Forestry Policy 2001 reforms and how they affected forest resources access, use and ownership (livelihoods and tenure security) among selected forest adjacent communities. The specific objectives were to (1) evaluate the effect of the National Forestry Policy 2001 on forest tenure security of the different forest adjacent communities’ genders and income group, (2) determine the contribution of forest resources to the livelihoods of forest adjacent communities under different forest tenure regimes following the implementation of the forest reforms of 2001, (3) examine the level of knowledge of the National Forestry Policy 2001 reforms by forest adjacent communities especially the poor and marginalized and (4) assess the perception of forest adjacent communities and determine whether or not the reforms are fair and improve their willingness to participate in forest management. The study was carried out in Kasambya sub-county where Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) programme was implemented in a government forest reserve, in Mugarama sub-county in Kibaale district where Private Forest Owners Association (PFOA) operated on private Mailo land, in customary forest in Palabek Kal sub-county Lamwo district and in Pakanyi sub-county Masindi district where villages were participating in the management of a community forest. The study revealed that a substantial number of respondents among forest adjacent communities (between 40-60%) in all four forest tenure arrangements studied did not know the rules and regulations introduced by the reforms. Again, a substantial number of respondents perceived the rules and regulations introduced by the reforms to be unfair. Perception of the effect of implementation of the reforms on forest tenure security was mixed with significant differences between men and women and the poor. The reforms did not lead to improved contribution of forestry resources to the livelihoods of forest adjacent communities. Forest adjacent communities continue to harvest forestry resources mostly for subsistence use. The study recommends that forestry agencies such as the Forest Sector Department, District forest services and NGOs should continuously sensitize forest adjacent communities about the bundles of rights introduced by the reforms using radio talk shows and village meetings. Guidelines should be developed on how forest adjacent communities can harvest forest products on a sustainable basis. Alternative income generating activities such as bee keeping should be promoted in all forest tenure arrangements in order to increase the contribution of forestry resources to local livelihoods.