Local people participation in conservation of Mpanga Central Forest Reserve, Mpigi district
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Establishing Protected Areas (PAs) is among the most common conservation interventions although these inhibit some human actions. However, adverse impacts could be balanced by maintaining ecosystem services or introducing new livelihood options. Well, understanding conservation attitudes of local communities is essential to the long-term sustainable management of natural resources such as forests while getting local people’s support and participation in PA management efforts is considered important for achieving conservation and livelihood goals. This study sought to evaluate the local people participation in the conservation of Mpanga central forest reserve towards conservation of the reserve with three specific objectives of identifying the benefits and challenges from the PA, determine perceptions attitudes held among residents and lastly their willingness to support and willingness to participate in the forest management practices. By the end of the study, data had been collected from 120 respondents and three local council leaders. The study revealed that the local people highly depend on the forest reserve for provision of infrastructures, craft-making materials, local herbs, firewood, improved economy through tourist inflow, conservation education, Security, and water & wild food as well as facing challenges such as limited access to the forest reserve, limited training of community members in aspects of forest management and use, boundary adjustment leading to limited farmland, and limited public participation in decision making. Taken together, these results suggest that much as the local people benefit from the forest, it will be an uphill of involving them in the conservation of the forest reserve due to the constraints faced. In addition, the local people had a negative attitude towards the Mpanga Central Forest Reserve and lastly much as the local people are willing to participate most of them have not had an opportunity to participate in the forest management practices while those who participate are just nominal participants. It is therefore important for the committee responsible for the management of Mpanga Central Forest Reserve to involve Local communities in corporation for the management of the forest reserve into long-term strategies such as community involvement in decision making and environmental education for sustaining the forest reserve. In addition, the management should ensure that thorough research is conducted periodically and incorporate attitudinal studies into the Forest Reserve Management plan.