Relevance of Indigenous Knowledge in Sustainable Management of Forest Resources in the 21st Century Uganda
Sub-Saharan Africa is endowed with indigenous knowledge systems and natural forest resources critical to supporting several forms of development. However, the region has experienced rapid population growth and demographic changes, which may lead to a decline in forest resources. Sustainable management of these resources is critical for a healthy forest ecosystem that should continue to provide goods and services to the present and future generations. Of the variety of management strategies employed in the sustainable management of forest resources, indigenous knowledge provides a plausible alternative. To ascertain the relevance of this knowledge, the Lugbara community in Yumbe district, northwestern Uganda, was considered. Data were collected from 371 respondents using questionnaires and 19 key informants using interviews; others included participatory GIS and remote sensing. Data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics, thematic and content analysis, and a forest cover change matrix. The results indicated a highly significant correlation between IK availability and usefulness of 0.703 at 0.01 level, and the socioeconomic and demographic variables tested statistically significant with sub-county of origin alone accounting for 11.7% of the variations in utilisation of IK in forest management. Indigenous knowledge was mostly used in the management of community forest resources, while modern scientific approaches were used in managing public forests. The forest resources were not sustainably managed despite the relatively high prevalence of IK. The linear model summary results were marginally significant, indicating that the prevalence of IK accounted for only approximately six% (R2 = .059) of the variations in SMFR. However, there was a resurrected interest in the use of IK since some forests managed using strict customary laws were the most biologically diverse. The resurrected interest implies that the IK remains relevant in the 21st century. The study therefore, recommends that IK practises be documented, promoted, and integrated into modern formal approaches to achieve SMFR
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