Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC

Kabale, Uganda

Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC

Kabale, Uganda

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Sassen M.,Wageningen University | Sassen M.,World Conservation Monitoring Center | Sheil D.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Sheil D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | And 3 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

Local communities who live close to protected tropical forests often depend on them for woodfuel, their main source of energy. The impacts of fuelwood extraction in humid forests are rarely studied, yet the extraction of wood for fuel can impact forest structure, function and biodiversity. We assessed the effects of fuelwood collection on the forest of Mt Elgon National Park (Uganda). We interviewed 192 households about fuelwood use and surveyed dead wood in 81 plots inside the park. Forest was the most important source of fuelwood. People collected on average between 1.1 and 2.0m3 of fuelwood per capita per year. Other activities involving wood fuel extraction from the forest included illegal commercial fuelwood harvesting and charcoal making. Quantities of dead wood were affected by fuelwood collection up to at least 1000m inside the boundary of the park. Depletion of dead wood inside the park was greater in the sites where the population was most dense. Nevertheless, people who planted more trees on their own land perceived land outside the park to be important and valued old growth forest less as a source of fuelwood. Highly-preferred tree species were most depleted, particularly when they were also valued timber trees, such as Prunus africana, Popocarpus milianjianus, Allophylus abyssinicus and Olea spp. Locally dominant species were less affected. Impacts varied among sites depending on the history of agricultural encroachment and locally-specific forest uses, e.g. harvesting of trees for poles or use of the forest land for grazing. Allowing the collection of dead wood in forests is double-edged as it creates opportunities for other activities that are more damaging. Demand for wood fuel from tropical forests is still likely to grow in the foreseeable future. Our results indicate that the forest may become more degraded as a result, with negative consequences for the people who depend on the forest and for conservation. Research into local ecological and cultural contexts and perceptions concerning costs and benefits can help devise more sustainable management options, including alternative sources of fuel. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Sassen M.,Wageningen University | Sheil D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | Sheil D.,Center for International Forestry Research
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2013

We investigated how local scale variation in human impacts influenced forest structure and tree species richness within Mt Elgon National Park, Uganda. We assessed basal area (BA), stem density, diameter at breast height (dbh) and indicators of human activity in 343 plots in four study sites, on transects running inwards from the boundary of the park. Mt Elgon hosts the only remaining natural forest in a densely populated region (150-1000p/km2). All study sites suffered past encroachment for agriculture and were in various stages of recovery or renewed-clearing at the time of the study. Areas recovering from encroachment had lower mean BA (BA=3-11m2/ha), dbh and often also lower stem densities than forest that had never been cleared (BA=21-43m2/ha), even 35years after abandonment and with restoration planting. Human impacts were found beyond 2km into the park. Although most activities decreased with distance inside the boundary, their prevalence varied among sites. High coefficients of variation in BA (Cv=0.8-1.1) and stem density (Cv=1.0-2.2) within sites, together with the evidence of sustained human activities, suggest that forest use histories strongly influenced local forest structure. Mean BA increased with distance inside the boundary in all sites, but stem densities reflected more complex patterns. Large trees (dbh≥20cm) were most affected by former clearing for agriculture. The collection of stems used as crop-supports reduced regeneration and the density of smaller stems at one site. In another site, charcoal making was associated with the smallest mean BA and marked variability in forest structure. Grazed forest consisted of large trees with very little regeneration. On forest margins in two sites grazing, generally together with fire and tree-cutting, had eroded the forest edge and prevented regeneration. Human impacts as well as natural gradients had major impacts on species richness patterns. Several areas in intermediate states of disturbance showed higher tree species richness than either old-growth forest or more severely degraded areas. This study illustrates the fine scale variation due to local impacts within one forest. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Sassen M.,Wageningen University | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | Sheil D.,Center for International Forestry Research | Sheil D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Protected forests are sometimes encroached by surrounding communities. But patterns of cover change can vary even within one given setting - understanding these complexities can offer insights into the effective maintenance of forest cover. Using satellite image analyses together with historical information, population census data and interviews with local informants, we analysed the drivers of forest cover change in three periods between 1973 and 2009 on Mt Elgon, Uganda. More than 25% of the forest cover of the Mt Elgon Forest Reserve/National Park was lost in 35. years. In periods when law enforcement was weaker, forest clearing was greatest in areas combining a dense population and people who had become relatively wealthy from coffee production. Once stronger law enforcement was re-established forest recovered in most places. Collaborative management agreements between communities and the park authorities were associated with better forest recovery, but deforestation continued in other areas with persistent conflicts about park boundaries. These conflicts were associated with profitability of annual crops and political interference. The interplay of factors originating at larger scales (government policy, market demand, political agendas and community engagement) resulted in a "back-and-forth" of clearing and regrowth. Our study reveals that the context (e.g. law enforcement, collaborative management, political interference) under which drivers such as population, wealth, market access and commodity prices operate, rather than the drivers per se, determines impacts on forest cover. Conservation and development interventions need to recognize and address local factors within the context and conditionalities generated by larger scale external influences. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Boissiere M.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Boissiere M.,Center for International Forestry Research | Locatelli B.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Locatelli B.,Center for International Forestry Research | And 5 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2013

People everywhere experience changes and events that impact their lives. Knowing how they perceive, react, and adapt to climatic changes and events is helpful in developing strategies to support adaptation to climate change. Mamberamo in Papua, Indonesia, is a sparsely populated watershed of 7.8 million hectares possessing rich tropical forests. Our study compares scientific and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) on climate, and analyzes how local people in Mamberamo perceive and react to climatic variations. We compared meteorological data for the region with local views gathered through focus group discussions and interviews in six villages. We explored the local significance of seasonality, climate variability, and climate change. Mamberamo is subject to strikingly low levels of climatic variation; nonetheless local people highlighted certain problematic climate-related events such as floods and droughts. As our results illustrate, the implications vary markedly among villages. People currently consider climate variation to have little impact on their livelihoods when contrasted with other factors, e.g., logging, mining, infrastructure development, and political decentralization. Nonetheless, increased salinity of water supplies, crop loss due to floods, and reduced hunting success are concerns in specific villages. To gain local engagement, adaptation strategies should initially focus on factors that local people already judge important. Based on our results we demonstrate that TEK, and an assessment of local needs and concerns, provide practical insights for the development and promotion of locally relevant adaptation strategies. These insights offer a foundation for further engagement. © 2013 by the author(s).


Sassen M.,Wageningen University | Sheil D.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Sheil D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | And 2 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

Local communities who live close to protected tropical forests often depend on them for woodfuel, their main source of energy. The impacts of fuelwood extraction in humid forests are rarely studied, yet the extraction of wood for fuel can impact forest structure, function and biodiversity. We assessed the effects of fuelwood collection on the forest of Mt Elgon National Park (Uganda). We interviewed 192 households about fuelwood use and surveyed dead wood in 81 plots inside the park. Forest was the most important source of fuelwood. People collected on average between 1.1 and 2.0m3 of fuelwood per capita per year. Other activities involving wood fuel extraction from the forest included illegal commercial fuelwood harvesting and charcoal making. Quantities of dead wood were affected by fuelwood collection up to at least 1000m inside the boundary of the park. Depletion of dead wood inside the park was greater in the sites where the population was most dense. Nevertheless, people who planted more trees on their own land perceived land outside the park to be important and valued old growth forest less as a source of fuelwood. Highly-preferred tree species were most depleted, particularly when they were also valued timber trees, such as Prunus africana, Popocarpus milianjianus, Allophylus abyssinicus and Olea spp. Locally dominant species were less affected. Impacts varied among sites depending on the history of agricultural encroachment and locally-specific forest uses, e.g. harvesting of trees for poles or use of the forest land for grazing. Allowing the collection of dead wood in forests is double-edged as it creates opportunities for other activities that are more damaging. Demand for wood fuel from tropical forests is still likely to grow in the foreseeable future. Our results indicate that the forest may become more degraded as a result, with negative consequences for the people who depend on the forest and for conservation. Research into local ecological and cultural contexts and perceptions concerning costs and benefits can help devise more sustainable management options, including alternative sources of fuel. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Parmentier I.,Free University of Colombia | Harrigan R.J.,University of California at Los Angeles | Buermann W.,University of California at Los Angeles | Mitchard E.T.A.,University of Edinburgh | And 35 more authors.
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2011

Aim Our aim was to evaluate the extent to which we can predict and map tree alpha diversity across broad spatial scales either by using climate and remote sensing data or by exploiting spatial autocorrelation patterns. Location Tropical rain forest, West Africa and Atlantic Central Africa. Methods Alpha diversity estimates were compiled for trees with diameter at breast height ≥10cm in 573 inventory plots. Linear regression (ordinary least squares, OLS) and random forest (RF) statistical techniques were used to project alpha diversity estimates at unsampled locations using climate data and remote sensing data [Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), Quick Scatterometer (QSCAT), tree cover, elevation]. The prediction reliabilities of OLS and RF models were evaluated using a novel approach and compared to that of a kriging model based on geographic location alone. Results The predictive power of the kriging model was comparable to that of OLS and RF models based on climatic and remote sensing data. The three models provided congruent predictions of alpha diversity in well-sampled areas but not in poorly inventoried locations. The reliability of the predictions of all three models declined markedly with distance from points with inventory data, becoming very low at distances >50km. According to inventory data, Atlantic Central African forests display a higher mean alpha diversity than do West African forests. Main conclusions The lower tree alpha diversity in West Africa than in Atlantic Central Africa may reflect a richer regional species pool in the latter. Our results emphasize and illustrate the need to test model predictions in a spatially explicit manner. Good OLS or RF model predictions from inventory data at short distance largely result from the strong spatial autocorrelation displayed by both the alpha diversity and the predictive variables rather than necessarily from causal relationships. Our results suggest that alpha diversity is driven by history rather than by the contemporary environment. Given the low predictive power of models, we call for a major effort to broaden the geographical extent and intensity of forest assessments to expand our knowledge of African rain forest diversity. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Liswanti N.,Center for International Forestry Research | Sheil D.,Center for International Forestry Research | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | Sheil D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | And 3 more authors.
International Forestry Review | Year: 2011

How do tropical forest people cope with natural disasters? We worked with four communities in East Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia, before and after a catastrophic flood. We interviewed 42 of 102 heads of households affected by the floods. All 42 households suffered some major loss of property crops, lands, houses, and/or livestock. Each household adopted one or more coping strategies: increasing their reliance on forest resources; seeking paid employment; relocating their houses; and finding temporary land to establish their crops in upland areas. Immediate reliance on the forest was greatest for those most heavily impacted, the poorest, the least well educated, and those with the easiest access. Overall, those with the fewest resources and alternatives made most use of the forest. But access to such forest benefits is becoming increasingly difficult. The often crucial value of forests to local forest-dwellers needs to be better recognized in the context of current developments. These forest derived safety-values should be maintained or where necessary substituted.


Boissiere M.,Center for International Forestry Research | Boissiere M.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Sheil D.,Center for International Forestry Research | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | And 2 more authors.
International Forestry Review | Year: 2011

We investigated how demand for war derived scrap metal influenced livelihoods, forest use and environmental outcomes near the biodiverse Annamite Mountains in Central Vietnam. We focused on one community, Khe Tran, and interviewed local villagers, active collectors from other communes, traders and officials. We also visited the forest. Collection is illegal during the dry season due to concerns about fires. Despite the threat of unexploded ordnance, villagers did not judge metal collection especially dangerous. Though metal is declining, scrap collection remained the principle reason people entered the forest. Though many Khe Tran villagers had past experiences as metal collectors most now favoured cultivation and plantation management. In contrast many collectors from elsewhere lacked such options. Collectors often sought other products when looking for metal, thereby facilitating trade in these forest products (e.g. bamboo and rattan). Alternative livelihood options are required for those reliant on this finite and declining resource.


Guariguata M.R.,Center for International Forestry Research | Garcia-Fernandez C.,Third University of Rome | Sheil D.,Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation ITFC | Nasi R.,Center for International Forestry Research | And 3 more authors.
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2010

Tropical forests could satisfy multiple demands for goods and services both for present and future generations. Yet integrated approaches to natural forest management remain elusive across the tropics. In this paper we examine one combination of uses: selective harvesting of timber and non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction. We analyze the current status of this combination and speculate on prospects and challenges regarding: (i) resource inventory, (ii) ecology and silviculture, (iii) conflict in the use of multipurpose tree species, (iv) wildlife conservation and use, (v) tenure, and (vi) product certification. Our conclusions remain preliminary due to the relative paucity of published studies and lessons learned on what has worked and what has not in the context of integrated management for timber and NTFPs. We propose at least three ways where further research is merited. One, in improving 'opportunistic' situations driven by selective timber harvesting that also enhance NTFP values. Two, to explicitly enhance both timber and NTFP values through targeted management interventions. Three, to explicitly assess biophysical, social, regulatory and institutional aspects so that combined benefits are maximized. Interventions for enhancing the compatibility of timber and NTFP extraction must be scaled in relation to the size of the area being managed, applied timber harvesting intensities, and the dynamics of multi-actor, forest partnerships (e.g., between the private sector and local communities). In addition, training and education issues may have to be re-crafted with multiple-use management approaches inserted into tropical forestry curricula. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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