Status and distribution of montane bamboo in Echuya central Forest reserve, S.W. Uganda
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This report is a study of the bamboo population structure, disturbance factors affecting bamboo forest regeneration and the management options for the recovery of the dwindling bamboo stock in Echuya Central Forest Reserve. The study was carried out as part of Nature Uganda’s Echuya Forest Conservation Project (EFCP) that aims at reconciling the needs of local people neighbouring the forest with the sustainable conservation of the forest. We used a stratified systematic sampling design of line transects laid out across the forest running in an East–West. A total of 100 circular plots were laid out along ten transects in a systematic grid at 100 m intervals. In addition, 100 larger circular plots for assessing trees associated with bamboo were also established at each sampling point. Results show that bamboo in Echuya is “unhealthy” since most of the stems were in an old age class category. There is a also a considerably high intensity of bamboo harvesting with 33.8% of total stems having been harvested in the pure bamboo and 23.6% of total stems having been harvested in mixed bamboo forest. Tendencies of over-harvesting bamboo were observed especially in the pure bamboo where as high as 73.9% of stem counts in a sample plot were recorded as cut stems. In addition, there was a high prevalence of bamboo stem damage caused by borer infestation, woody climbers and feeding by monkeys. Tree colonization and root expansion were also a threat to the bamboo. We recommend urgent attention to allow for the recovery of the existing bamboo stock by, among others, regulating and enforcing bamboo off-take quotas which were recommended by other researchers such as Bitariho & McNeilage (2006). We further recommend participatory review of the existing bamboo off-takes, reducing the number of harvesters at any given time, strengthening the bamboo domestication program, putting in place bamboo recovery periods of at least 4–5 years between harvests where no harvesting is allowed and banning commercial harvesting of bamboo.
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