RCE Greater Eastern Uganda-2017

1. Project Title: 
Partnership for community engagement in biodiversity conservation for sustainable livelihood. The case of Offaka and Usururu sub-counties in Uganda.
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
3. Project partner contact information : 
Greater Eastern Uganda RCE
Lead organisation
Main Contact: 
Dr. Andama Eward, Email. andamaedward@gmail.com
Dr. Andama Edward
Busitema University
Alternative project contact: 
Moses Andima
Busitema university Faculty of Science and Education
4. Project type
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

In order to promote sustainable utilisation of plant resources, it is important to first acquire knowledge of the availability, quantity and distribution of the resources, and assess threats to the resources and the indigenous knowledge (IK) and the level of dependence of the local communities on goods and services provided by plant resources.

(a) The project on the ethno-botanical study was vital to identify strategies for managing plant resources for promoting their sustainable utilization. The study also provided information on local environmental management practices that could be used to design culturally appropriate conservation strategies (Casas et al., 2007 This information was important to develop sustainable modules of natural resource use that links conservation goals with the economic well-being of the community who depend upon ecosystem goods for their livelihoods.  General objectives  of the project was to identify and draw up an inventory of the flora of the sub Counties (Offaka and Usukuru), focusing on the economic, medicinal and environmental importance to the plants to the community and to make recommendations on how stakeholders working in the Sub County can rehabilitate, conserve, propagate and promote such flora for sustaining livelihoods. Specific Objectives were to:

  • Document flora which have economic, nutritional, medicinal and social potential to make a contribution to the achievement of sustainable livelihoods of the community.
  • Identify key challenges facing conservation and sustainable use of the plant resources.
  • Describe the responsibilities of all levels of governance and of households and individuals in relation to indigenous plant and habitat protection outside of the officially protected areas in Uganda.
  • Make recommendations on the management, rehabilitation and propagation of economically, nutritionally, medicinally and socially important flora.
  • Recommend approaches, processes and strategies for promoting identified flora to support sustainable livelihoods while maintaining ecosystem services..

(b) The second pant study investigated the distribution, population pattern, use and conservation status of endemic Aloe tororoana (Reynolds) in Tororo District, Eastern Uganda. Specific objectives were to (i)  Determine population patterns and distribution of the species, (ii)  Monitor phenology patterns of the species, (iii)  Document indigenous knowledge and use of the species and (iv)  Document threats to the survival of the species.

7. Provide references and reference materials : 
6. Project status
The first project in Offaka subcounty showed that the study sites was rich in plants species and a total of 703 individual plant species were enumerated resulting in a total of 193 individual species recorded during the study, belonging to 57 families. Of the plants recorded in the area, four species Afzelia Africana (Lokoko), Dalbergia melanoxylon (Poyi), Vitellaria paradoxa (Awa) and Khaya anthotheca (Eri/Mario) are grouped in the IUCN (2011) category of endangered plant species in Uganda. Record of similar plant study approach in other sub counties was not available for comparison of the plant biodiversity nevertheless this report indicates that Offaka Sub County has high diversity of plant species, ranging from trees to shrubs and herbaceous/grass layers. The most dominant tree species were Combretum (Adu), Acacia (Oli) in non-farm lands while the farmlands were dominated by Vitellaria, Tamarindus and Ficus (Laru) tree species. The shrub layer was dominated by Grewia (Inzu) and Annona senegalense (Lipa) species. Whereas the grass cover was dominated by Hyperthermia dissolute (Embetia), Branchiaria (Licoo) and Enteropogan (Ta-ngu) species. These findings indicate that Offaka Sub County contains nationally and internationally very important wildlife species which need to be conserved for the benefit of humanity.
Vegetation cover change analysis
The overall area covered by Offaka Sub County is 20,452.36 hectares. Land vegetation cover change analysis between 2000 and 2014 shows that land for agriculture increased to 11,249.51 ha in 2014 from 6,374.68 ha in 2000. Closed woodland vegetation type reduced from 11,912.88 ha. to 1,582.78 ha. with most of it (4,856.85 ha.) going for use in agriculture and 2,186.87 to wooded grass lands. Therefore, the land cover pattern for the year 2014 indicate that agriculture was the dominant land use with 11,249.50 ha, followed by wooded grassland with 3,309 ha, closed woodland vegetation 1.582.50 ha, close to open woodland vegetation with 2,598.60 ha. In general 86.71% of the closed woodland was lost during the last 14 year period!

Mammal species
A total of 24 mammal species were reported to occur in the area according to the hunters’ knowledge supplemented by the field observations. The most commonly reported were Baboon, Black and White Colobus Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Patas Monkey, Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Bushpig, Bush Duiker, Wild Rabbit, Warthog, Aardvark, Serval Cat, Civet Cat and, banded Mongoose. The continued existence of these mammal species in the area suggests that environmental conditions may still be favourable in the study area to support their existence. The recent change in land use patterns in Offaka Sub County which resulted in substantial loss of natural habitats is likey to lead to wild mammal species extinction in the area,

Use of biodiversity
This study has shown Offaka Sub County still has reasonably high plant biodiversity which the community depend on for livelihood. The food plants considered of importance to the community included Shea nut Tree (Awa), Mangoes (Mango), Oranges (Ndima), Avocado (avocado), Tamarind (Iti) and Brother Heart, Ego, Jackfruit (Fene), Ecifi, Esisi, Passion Fruit (Enzu), Cashew Nut (Kasu nut), Nungu, Okoro and Zabibu (Elo). 88% of respondents reported that they used herbal medicine in their family. Various plants both indigenous and non indigenous (exotic) were used for treatment of various ailments and they included Mangifera indica (Mango), Tabernaemontana ventricosa (Kanza), Vernonia sp. (eciro) among others. Other uses of plants included for making crafts and for construction. Other biodiversity resources harvested from the wild included honey (77% participate in harvesting honey) and fisheries resources. The communities in the Sub County also hunt wild mammals for bush meat and 66.4% of the respondents reported that their family members participated in annual wild mammal hunting event aimed at providing sources of protein for their families.
Key environmental challenges were that Offaka Sub County natural vegetation was under intense human pressure due to high demand for fuel wood, expansion of agricultural lands and overgrazing. The key environmental challenges identified in the Sub County include tree cutting for charcoal making, poor agricultural methods exposing soils to erosion, overgrazing of vegetation by livestock and bush burning.

1. This study has shown that Offaka Sub County has reasonably high terrestrial plant biodiversity which the community depend on for their livelihood. The wide portfolio of plant species provides crucial opportunity to adapt and develop sustainable mechanisms to support community needs, production systems and for regulating local ecosystems to meet the needs of future generations.
2. The most dominant tree species were Combretum (Adu), Acacia (Oli) in non farm lands while the farm land was dominated by Vitellaria-formerly Butyrospermum (Awa) and Ficus (Laro) tree species. The shrub layer was dominated by Grewia (Inzu) and Annona senegalense (Lipa) species. Whereas the grass cover was dominated by Hyperthermia dissolute (embetia), Branchiaria (Licoo) and Enteropogan (Ta-ngu) species.
3. This study demonstrates the potential of indigenous plants to provide various local community needs in terms of health, nutrition and other commercial demands which would generally improve family livelihoods. Thus the floral resources in the natural vegetation and the agroforestry ecosystem recorded in this study offer the rural community an opportunity to develop sustainable utilisation programmes to diversify their income, increase farm production, provide fodder for livestock and acquire nutrient and anti-pathogen ingredients to mitigate diseases.
4. Within Offaka community many plant species have been identified for use as firewood, craft, and building among others. The community acknowledges that the quantity of trees species is declining which is attributed to charcoal production, firewood for tobacco curing and land clearance for expanding area under agriculture. This imposes challenges in sustainable use of the plant resources in the Sub County.
5. Over the last 14 years from the year 2000, the natural ecosystem in Offaka Sub County has changed very rapidly. For example there was a net loss of over 80% of closed woodland vegetation cover, largely because of the need to meet rapidly growing demands for agriculture, charcoal, firewood for tobacco curing, timber, and fuel wood for domestic use.
6. The traditional herbal medicine practioners (THMP) were recorded to play important responsibility of providing primary health care service within the community. Unfortunately, there are no efforts to propagate the medicinal plant species through promotion of herbal gardens. The study shows that in Offaka Sub County women were key stakeholders in natural resource use and management through collection of wild foods plants that provide nutrients for the families during food shortages. They are also responsible for collection of household firewood. The reduction in the availability of fuel wood is already posing a constraint to their livelihood. The implication of this requires understanding and addressing the gender-specific challenges, roles and relationships to natural resources use and management.Based on this study the following are recommended for sustainable use and management of the floral resources.

the second project on Aloe tororoana indicated that when Phosphate mining starts in Osukuru hills this may negatively impact on the survival of the species as the area had the largest population of Aloe tororoana in the habitat. The study found out that the plant was extensively collected from the wild by the adjacent local communities and processed for treating a wide variety of human and livestock illnesses. These included fevers, cough, stomach pains in humans and poultry diseases.
The current threats to the survival of the Aloe tororoana species include rock degradation due to farming, rock excavation, settlements (house construction), bush burning, livestock and grazing. Information from this short study clearly reveals that Aloe tororoana may have a wider distribution than reported earlier. There may also be several important but barely known plant species and other biodiversity resources out in the wild occurring in different parts of Uganda but their distribution is incomplete or are yet to be discovered. Several of these biodiversity resources just like Aloe tororoana do not occur in formally gazetted or protected areas. As such they are facing unprecedented pressure of degradation from several human activities. With the current increase in degradation of the natural habitats due to expansion of agriculture activities, spread of settlements, extraction of mineral resources and in addition the impact of climate change, such plant biodiversity may disappear from the earth’s surface without full understanding of their potential for human use. This study is an eye opening that there are many biodiversity resources still unexplored and yet are at the verge of becoming extinct. Our proposal is for the government and the stakeholders to get interested in supporting endeavors to study indigenous biodiversity especially those in non gazzetted areas or private lands.

8. Tagging
Africa and Middle East