Characterisation of Forest Resources and the Local Communities for the Choice of Sustainable Forest Management Strategies in Uganda
The decline in natural forest resources in the tropics due to ineffective management practices has reached unprecedented levels with the most affected forests being in developing countries. Efforts to manage these resources sustainably have proven futile. Understanding the nature and status of the forest resources and the communities is crucial for devising effective management strategies. The study was designed to characterise forest resources and the local communities to aid in the choice of effective management strategies for forest resources. The study was conducted in Yumbe district, northwestern Uganda, using a cross-sectional research design. It targeted communities living in the sub-counties of Kei, Kerwa, and Midigo. Data were collected using questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, participant observations, and remote sensing. Pearson correlation and regression were used to analyse quantitative data, while thematic analysis was used to analyse qualitative data. The correlation p-values (Sig.) of less than .05 were statistically significant, implying a strong relationship between socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of households and the choice of forest management strategies. The results further showed that the local communities were poor, illiterate, and dependent on subsistence farming and forest resources. The forest resources both in public and communal lands were in a state of serious decline. They were non-timber-based, accessible to the local community and dominated by woodland and other grassland mosaics. The local community used sustainable management practices, such as selective harvesting, tree planting, and gazetting some sites as sacred places. The management strategies used were forest type-specific, e.g., traditional for community forests and modern for public forests. The most important factor influencing the choice of management strategy was the level of education with an R Square value of .112. The study, therefore, recommends an improvement in the education of the local communities and the integration of local skills and practices to promote community-based approaches in sustainable forest resource management.
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