A Comparative Review of Agroforestry Practices in Two Forest
Learning from the failings of previous technological and core based approaches to conservation and rural poverty, many reversals have taken place during the last decade in rural development agendas. The approach which has emerged has attempted to move away from previous seasonal, gender, accessibility, wealth and power biases, in which the most disadvantaged people were often overlooked. It has been recognised that if long term conservation and development are to succeed, local people must be involved directly and actively at all levels of the research, management and decision making process:
The Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project (MECDP) was set up in 1987, and its current aim is to “promote community development and conserve Mount Elgon’s ecosystem for present and future use” using a “community based resource management approach” involving the participation and empowerment of local communities in the development process (MECDP, 1995). Working in conjunction with Mount Elgon National Park (MENP), park regulations have been formulated with reference to the needs of local people and their resource use levels, and enforced in conjunction with a comprehensive education programme (family planning and agricultural extension programmes have been established in the majority of forest adjacent parishes). Collaborative management has been piloted in two parishes, with the aim of extending it to all forest adjacent parishes before the project ends in 2000. Uganda National Farmers Association (UNFA) and UWA Face (Forests Absorbing Carbon dioxide Emission Foundation) are also active in the area.
Population density is high in the majority of parishes adjacent to the forests of MENP, and land shortage and fragmentation are an increasing problem as the population grows (Scott, 1994). Plans are underway to move the small number of remaining forest dwellers from Benet parish. However, people from forest adjacent parishes are continuing to graze cattle and collect live wood from the forest. Current grazing by cattle in Benet and grazing which took place in the past has been shown to alter the composition of plant and animal communities considerably (Cameron, 1997; McPharland Opus, 1998; Reed and Clokie, sumitted). In particular, grazing in the forest has been found to suppress tree regeneration. Tree growth continues to be suppressed in areas which have not been grazed intensively for fifteen years, due to dense colonisation by the woody herb Mimulopsis alpina in these areas. This represents a serious threat to the continuation of forest in grazed areas.
Agroforestry has the potential to provide a sustainable supply of tree products which were formerly harvested from the forest, as well as improving the sustainability and productivity of local agriculture. In conjuction with family planning and the spread of other modern production techniques, agroforestry can play a significant role in reducing encroachment and is a key component of the MECDP extension programme. The aim of this study was to analyse the contribution of trees to the production strategies of local farming households in forest a lululemon outlet djacent parishes, in the context of local agricultural systems, constraints to production and the work of locally active development organisations. This was done using elements of rural and participatory rural appraisal methodologies to gather information in the pilot parish, Tegres (where the project had worked for four years (1992 1996)) and in the neighbouring parish, Kwoti (in which the project had been working since the end of 1997 (three months before the study commenced)). The contribution of development agencies to changes in production s lululemon outlet trategies was evaluated, constraints to change were determined and the attitudes of farmers to the development process was assessed. It is hoped that this information will enable those working in the area to gain a fresh insight into the potential use of agroforestry in the conservation and development Mount Elgon, as well as providing an insight into the obstacles which may prevent this potential being realised.
In order to develop successful and adoptable agroforestry interventions as part of a rural development strategy, it is essential to base research on the knowledge and attitudes of local farmers. Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) (Khon Kaen University, 1987), and more recently Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) (Mascarenhas et al., 1991; Macarenhas, 1992; Chambers, 1992), have been developed to optimise the input of local people to the research and development process. The aim of this research was to provide information which could facilitate decision makers and local people to make appropriate decisions within the current development process. Information was extracted using a range of RRA techniques, whilst applying the behavioural lessons learnt from PRA.
The parishes of Kwoti and Upper Tegres were comparable in their physical and human environments. However, MECDP had been active for different amounts of time in each parish (the project had only worked in Kwoti for three months in comparison to the four years of work in Upper Tegres). Upper Tegres was selected for study in preference to Lower Tegres due to its greater similarity to Kwoti in terms of area, altitude, climate, crops grown, population size and density, soil fertility and distance from the National Park. The slope and aspect of cultivated land in each parish was similar (approximately 4 degrees and predominantly north to north west facing in both parishes). The same agricultural extension officer (AEO) and MECDP project co ordinators carried out the work in each parish. Although Upper Tegres was more similar to Kwoti than Lower Tegres, there were differences between the two parishes, which are discussed in Section 3.4.
Data was collected over six weeks from 5 January to 13 February 1998, after a two week acclimatisation period in which the research team learnt about aspects of the local culture and language, and began to build relationships with the local community. Twenty farming households were sampled at random from each parish. This represented 7% of households from each parish. Semi structured interviews (using a checklist) were conducted with the assistance of an interpreter (fluent in English, Kup Sabine and Khi Swahili). The interview checklist was approved and augmented by the MECDP Kapchorwa District Co ordinator, and progressively modified throughout the interviewing process. Interviews were conducted with the main decision maker of the household, who tended to be male. the mature children of single parents) were interviewed whenever possible. Where the presence of these people was not possible throughout the interview, they were asked questions relating to problems and perceptions (see checklist (section F)). expressing humility through body language, listening skills and the desire to learn from farmers) (Chambers, 1983). During the interviews, farmers guided the research team around the property. Where this was not possible, diagrams were drawn by the farmer. This served to bring to attention aspects of the production system which the owner may have otherwise overlooked or perceived to be unimportant. Interviewees were asked to rank their problems, and their perceptions of the development organisations.
Plot gradients were estimated on a visual scale (from 0 (flat) to 6 (steeply sloping)). Estimates of farm area were given by interviewees and corroborated by an estimate from the interpreter. Soil fertility was estimated using a variety of techniques: by calculating maize productivity in bags per acre, by verbal reports from farmers and by a visual assessments of soil colour, compaction and organic matter content. Soil erosion was estimated on a visual scale (from 0 (none) to 6 (severe)) and from verbal reports from farmers. Wealth was measured by calculating household incomes, and corroborated by visual indicators (presence/absence of an iron roof, condition of health and clothing). Visual indicators were scored on a scale from 2 (richest) to 2 (poorest).
Species identification was carried out in the field by the research team using the key in Katende et al. (1995). Vouchers were taken for any species which could not be identified in the field. Vouchers are currently being identified at Makerere University Herbarium where a number of specimens have been lodged permanently.
Five days of extended interviews with key informants in Kapchorwa and Mbale followed the work with farmers. The Training Officer from MECDP headquarters in Mbale who is responsible for much of the day to day running of the organisation was interviewed as well as the AEO for Kwoti and Tegres, MECDP project co ordinators for animal and crop husbandry, soil conservation and agroforestry were interviewed, and representatives from UNFA and UWA Face.
Location, climate and geology are described.
There are two districts in Uganda which are adjacent to the National Park. In Mbale District there are 5 counties, 15 sub counties and 35 parishes bordering the forest, and in Kapchorwa District there are 3 counties, 8 sub counties and 23 parishes bordering the forest.
Two main tribal groups live on the northern slopes of Mount Elgon. The Sabei, of Nilo Cushtic origin, were originally pastoralists living in the forest between about 2500 and 3000m where they grazed their cattle, sheep and goats on pastures within the forest and on the high moor lands. The Bagisu, of Bantu origin, were originally agriculturists, and have gradually moved further up the lower slopes of Mount Elgon, having moved into the area in the sixteenth century (Were Wilson, 1970). Bagisu are a small minority in the two study parishes. The Sabei are the only recorded traditional residents of the area gazetted as Mount Elgon National Park.
There has been a long history of forest utilisation by the local communities of Mount Elgon. The most commonly collected forest products are firewood, ropes, polewood, vegetables (including mushrooms), bamboo shoots, bamboo stems, crop stakes and grazing (Scott, 1994). The religious and cultural significance of the forest is still stressed by the local communities who use the forest for circumcision ceremonies and medicinal plants on a regular basis (Ransom, 1998). A group known as the Kony have lived in the forest until recent relocations moved the majority of these people out of the forest. They were a pastoralist community, grazing cattle, collecting honey and bamboo (for basketry) and hunting. Relocated Kony have had to learn agricultural skills. The majority of these people are content living outside the forest due to the improved educational and health facilities available (Ransom, 1998).
High immigration rates and encroachment proceeded unchecked throughout the years of civil unrest (17% of the reserve had been deforested by 1990 according to Howard (1991)) until the resettlement programmes took place in 1983 and 1990. A large area of Kwoti (6000 ha) was gazetted from the forest for the purpose of resettling forest dwellers in 1983. However, in 1990 the gazetted area was found to have been measured inaccurately, and the area was regazetted later that year. This left many people who had been allocated ground in 1983 without land, and these people have continued to farm the area illegally since this time, petitioning the government to reinstate the 1983 park boundary. Considerable confusion was caused over this matter by a government minister who visited the area in 1997. He promised people in Kwoti that the 1983 boundary would be restored, and permitted them to graze cattle in the forest until stability had returned to the areas from which many had fled from cattle rustling.
Conservation Importance of Mount Elgon
The conservation of MENP is important for a number of reasons. The combined area of the Ugandan and Kenyan parks are sufficiently large to maintain viable populations of many of the larger and rarer species of large mammals which are vulnerable to extinction in smaller National Parks. Bird surveys conducted on the mountain (Van Someren, 1922, 1932; Britton, 1980; Pearson and Turner, 1986; Howard, 1991; Kings, 1997) show that avifauna of Mount Elgon is diverse and includes a number of rare and threatened bird species which are restricted to Mount Elgon and a few other East African mountains. In addition to this a number of studies have found a higher proportion of forest generalist species than specialist species, which can be attributed to the effects of human disturbance on forest bird communities (Katende et al., 1989; Mathews, 1996; McPharland Opus, 1998). Overall, IUCN have listed 37 faunal species in the area as “globally threatened” (22 mammal, 2 insect and 13 bird species, of which nine species are endemic), making the area a priority for species conservation (IUCN, 1995a,b).
The majority of the plant species in the forest zone above 2000m have been shown to be endemic to the Afromontane Region (White, 1983), and a number of species in this zone are endemic to Mount Elgon (Van Heist, 1993). Mount Elgon is thought to have been a radiating point for a number of elements of the afro montane flora (Coe, 1969).
The most recent and the most extensive survey of Mount Elgon’s biota (including vegetation, birds, butterflies, moths, and s lululemon outlet mall mammals) was conducted as part of the Mount Elgon Biodiversity Survey (Davenport et al. 1996) between 1991 and 1995 by the Forestry Department as part of the National Forest Biodiversity Inventory Programme. As a result of this programme, Mount Elgon was provisionally ranked amongst the top ten most species rich forests and was identified as a priority for the conservation of Uganda’s small mammals (Davenport et al. 1996).
The conservation of Mount Elgon is vital to the economic functioning of an extensive surrounding area. The mountain plays a crucial role as a water catchment, supplying approximately one million people to the north and west with fresh water (Howard, 1991).
Educational facilities in the area are limited, as are job opportunities locally and externally. This leaves many young people with little choice but to depend on a small and usually inadequate portion of their parent’s land (Scott, 1994).
There is however a high potential for the development of tourism in the area. The government targeted ecotourism in its Integrated Tourism Master Plan of 1993 because revenues from ecotourism are high in relation to the number of tourists involved. Amooti (1996) describes ecotourism as ‘purposeful travel that creates understanding of culture and natural history, while safeguarding the integrity of the ecosystem’. On the other hand, the fact that ecotourism reach places which were formerly untouched by outsiders increases the potential impact of tourism. In addition to this, the tourist trade is highly dependant on foreign markets (Cochrane, 1993). Nevertheless, MENP management view tourism as a potential source of funding which could sustain its conservation programme after donor funding has ceased Ransom, 1998).
Legislation was put in place in order that revenues from ecotourism would be used in rural development. Introduced in 1996, the Uganda Wildlife Statute states that,
No payments have yet been made however, and few people know about the initiative. In MENP, those who knew about the new funding believed the figure was only twelve percent of park entry fees (Ransom, 1998). Revenues from tourism on Mount Elgon have been growing at an increasing rate according to information collected by MENP about visitors to the park between 1994 and 1996 and a personal communication about numbers in 1993 from Wagstaff in Scott (1994). The number of people visiting the park remained similar between 1993 and 1994 (approximately 300 visitors per year) but it increased by 60% between 1994 and 1995 and had increased by a further 65% by 1996 (850 tourists visited the park in that year) (Ransom, 1998).
Management of the Conservation Area
Mount Elgon has been controlled by the Forest Department since 1929. It became Mount Elgon Crown Forest in 1940, and became a Forest Reserve in 1951. The main objective of the working plan for 1968 1978 (Synott, 1968) was to protect the forest, with the extraction of timber as a secondary objective. Since the restoration of civil stability in Uganda, the government has become increasingly concerned with conservation issues, and in 1988, a forest rehabilitation project was initiated on Mount Elgon. In 1992, the area was handed over to Uganda National Parks and renamed Mount Elgon National Park. In the last eight years, management policies have shifted from the protection and extraction of forest resources, to an increasing involvement of local communities in management decisions, and an emphasis on sustainable utilisation of resources. This culminated in a new management plan for the park in 1995. MECDP have commissioned a number of resource inventories and assessments to facilitate management planning. Katende et al. (1989) carried out a bio lululemon outlet diversity inventory for woody perennials and birds and a Land Mapping and Biodiversity Survey of Mount Elgon National Park was carried out in 1993 to assist the development of a long term management plan (van Heist, 1994). The survey described numerous aspects of the mountain’s ecology with an emphasis on plant biodiversity. A “resource use assessment” was commissioned for the same purpose detailing resource use by people groups across the mountain through a series of semi structured interviews and group discussions (Scott, 1994).
The Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project
The Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project was initiated in 1987 with three main long term objectives:
to ensure the conservation of the biological diversity and ecological processes within the natural forests