The impact of tree harvesting on the population structure of drum making tree species in Mpanga forest reserve, Mpigi district, central Uganda
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In developing countries, a large proportion of human population depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods. In Uganda, Mpigi district many people depend on woody resources for their livelihoods especially those that live near Mpanga forest. Drum making is one of the most important economic activities that sustains people’s livelihoods around Mpanga Forest. This affects the population structure and densities of certain tree species in Mpanga forest. This study aimed at documenting the effects of exploitation on the population structure of nine selected species used for drum making. A total of twenty plots measuring 20 by 20 were established in 100m intervals along the transects laid in the forest to sample the selected tree species with DBH>4. These were counted and their numbers recorded and also the DBH measured. Also a 5 by 5 quadrant was established in each of the plots to sample the seedlings and samplings of selected tree species. The selected drum making tree species included Antiaris toxicaria, Erythrina exclesia, Ficus mucuso, Ficus exasperate, Funtumia africana, Polyscia fulva, Cordia africana, Celtis mildbreadii and Celtis durandii. Selective harvesting of such trees to boom the drum making business in Mpigi District exposes them to a risk of getting depleted completely from the forest where they are exploited thus affecting ecosystem health of the forest and thus becoming a conservation issue to the forest managers and drum makers who would eventually cease getting such products in the near future. Results from this study showed that A.toxicaria was had the highest density 93stems/ha (23.6%) and F. mucuso had the lowest density 15stems/ha (3.8%). The general trend among all drum making tree species in the forest also comprised of high numbers in the 0-3.9cm DBH classes while lower among the medium and mature trees of above DBH 20cm classes. This implies that selective harvesting occurs in the forest and that the mature trees were preferred by drum makers compared to the young ones and that regeneration of such trees is taking place. However, this study recommends that forest managers raise awareness of local communities around the forest about the declining status of the natural stocks and encourage on farm planting of such trees to reduce over exploitation in the forest thus conserving them.