Effect of tobacco production and household subsistence use on tree species composition and abundance: A case study of Savanna woodlands in Kuluba Subcounty, Koboko District
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Savanna woodlands are important in providing both ecological and economic services that sustain local livelihoods. This dependence on woodland resources coupled with pressure from other external factors hinder sustainable livelihood and forest management if tree species abundance and composition is overlooked. The objectives of this study were: (i) to examine the benefits of the tree species commonly harvested and used by the households and tobacco farmers (ii) to assess the tree species commonly harvested and used by the households and tobacco farmers and (iii) to assess the attributes of the tree species harvested and used by the households and the tobacco farmers. Household heads and other family members were interviewed to determine which benefits they get from the woodland, tree species they harvest and their attributes. Data on tree species/genus name, number of stumps from two sub-regions (disturbed and relatively undisturbed) were recorded along transects measuring 500 meters and sample plots of 20m by 20m, 10 plots in total from each sub-region were established along the transect. More tree species/genus were recorded in the undisturbed sub-region compared to the disturbed. The Important Value Indices for the species were calculated in the two sub-regions. Wood fuel, construction materials, tobacco production and medicine among others were found to be the major benefits that the locals derive from the woodland tree species. Psidium guajava, Mangifera indica, Combretum spp, Acacia spp, Afzelia africana, Albizia coriaria, Annona senegalensis species among others were harvested by households because of their availability, sweet/succulent fruits, hard/durable wood quality, among other attributes. Tree species varied in the two sub-regions while others were restricted to only one sub-region. Number of tree stumps were higher in the disturbed sub-region compared the relatively undisturbed. These variations were due excessive harvesting and dependence on the woodland. Also human disturbances can create conditions that can favour the growth of other species. It is recommended that the local community should be continuously sensitized about the adverse effects of woodland degradation, drawing of proper management plan and participatory woodland management which integrates all stakeholders. In addition, the social and economic wellbeing of the households should be improved through alternative economic activities so as to reduce dependence on woodland resources for incomes and livelihoods.