Brief information on topic and research question: This research focuses on analyzing the influence of tenure features and forms on forest cover change, degradation and rural livelihoods in mid-western Uganda. This region is home to the largest Central Forest Reserve in Uganda. However, due to population pressure and expansion of agricultural lands, government forests in the area, just like others in the country, are increasingly being encroached by the surrounding rural communities. In response, the government of Uganda decentralized forest management functions and promoted more inclusive forest management strategies as opposed to its earlier “command and control” management strategy. In the forestry sector, one notable inclusive strategy is collaborative forest management that promises a win-win outcome where livelihoods of surrounding rural communities are improved as forest resources are conserved. Also, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)-related programs have been implemented in community forests and on private land in the area. However, to date, there is dearth of empirical data on the extent to which the win-win narrative is being actualized on ground and under what conditions. Also, lessons from PES-related schemes that engage rural farmers to plant or conserve trees on their lands and in community forests could serve as an important starting point for REDD+ in the mid-western region and other parts of the country. This study will contribute to filling this information gap by providing the latest empirical data and suggesting strategies to conserve forest resources while contributing to rural development in areas where the initiatives are implemented. The study is based on the institutional theory to analyze and explain how tenure features (tenure security, exclusion ability, rule enforcement and dispute resolution) and forms (private, state and communal) influence forest conservation and rural livelihoods. Satellite imagery will be used to analyze the trend of deforestation in and around Budongo central forest reserve in the last 40 years. Basal area, species composition, size class distributions and evidence of illegal activities will be used to assess the level of forest degradation in the different tenure forms. Data on livelihood assets, activities and strategies will be collected from communities surrounding Budongo, Ongo and Alimugonza forests. Livelihoods analysis will be based on the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework which emphasizes the livelihood circumstances of the poor, including their asset status, the activities in which they engage, and the encouraging or discouraging character of the institutional context within which their livelihood strategies unfold.
Progress to date:
•I have collected bio-physical data for the first objective and now drafting a journal article using this dataset for publication
• I attended a short course in Statistical Programming in R at NMBU, Norway in January, 2015.
• The first phase of data collection is ongoing. So far, key informant interviews have been held with National Forestry Authority officials in Masindi and are being held with those in Kampala.
• Key informant interviews have also been held with community members who are leaders of forest management groups in communities surrounding Budongo central forest reserve and Ongo and Alimugonza community forests.
• Analysis of time-series satellite imagery to determine the extent of land cover change in and around budongo is ongoing.