Residents Embrace Collaborative Forest Management

2665 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
The success of the Collaborative Forestry Management by communities living near Itwara Central Forest Reserve is being attributed to the community's knowledge about the programme. There has been reduction in tree cutting for timber and encroachment of the forest reserve.

More communities are embracing the collaborative Forest Management Programme in Kabarole district. The programme is meant to stem the depletion of central forest reserves by members of the community.
In 2001, government put in a place a forest policy aimed at effective management of forest resources, after some state institutions failed to register significant positive results due to lack of adequate financial and human resources to monitor the use of these forests. The Community Forestry Management was set up as another viable option to manage forestry resources.
In section 15 of the National Forest and Tree Planting Act, communities enter into an agreement with the National Forest Authority (NFA) for the management of forest resources through a negotiated process. Under the agreement, the community manages a central or local forest reserve in accordance with regulations that have been issued by the Minister.
In Kabarole district, the CFM was implemented a year ago in communities in Hakibale Sub County. NFA signed a memorandum of understanding with Hakibale conservation community group to manage Itwara central forest reserve.  It was implemented following an increase in cases of tree cutting for timber and cases of forest fires, which had become a daily occurrence.
The implementation of CFM has seen a reduction in tree cutting and encroachment of the forest reserves, which was rampant in the past.
Moses Irumba, the sector manager Itwara, says that encroachment and tree cutting in the forest reserve has reduced by 60% since the CFM was implemented. Irumba says that some of the residents who had encroached on the reserve have since left and are managing the reserve after being educated on the dangers of depleting the forest reserve.
He says that through the CFM, communities also supplement the work of the NFA since the authority lacks adequate manpower and resources to protect the forest reserves.
Steven Mugenyi, the chairperson Hakibale conservation group, attributes the success to the community’s awareness about CFM. He says that in the first four months when it was being implemented, there wasn't any positive impact since the residents were ignorant. Mugenyi says that through the sub county and village environment committees, the residents have been sensitized about the benefits of CFM like getting herbal medicine and firewood from the reserves.
//Cue in: “degradation of the reserve…
Cue out: “…settlement on the land.”//
 Ruth Byamukama, a member of the group, however says that there is need for the government to popularize CFM since some members of the community are still ignorant about it. She says that some residents think that after signing the agreement with NFA, the forest reserve belongs to the community and are free to cut down trees.  
According to the Environment report for Uganda 2011/2012 compiled by the Ministry of Water and Environment, in areas where central forest reserves exist, the CFM hasn’t registered any positive impact.
The report states that communities are ignorant about collaborative forestry management and NFA officials were also conniving with members of the public to cut down trees for timber.  


Mentioned: nema

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.