Conflict over forest resources around Mt. Elgon National Park, Uganda
Rono, Benson Yesho
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Conflict over forest resources constitutes a major form of conflicts in this modern age. This study investigated the conflict at Mt. Elgon National Park, Chepkwasta Sub-County in Bukwo District. Specifically, the study examined the causes and stakeholders of this conflict, the effects of the conflict and any steps that were being undertaken to manage the conflict. A cross sectional survey of 140 respondents was conducted. Of these, 20 were key informants purposefully selected and 120 were randomly selected community members. Data collected were analyzed mainly with the use of descriptive statistics. This study indicated that conflicts in the study area majorly emanated from shortage of pasture (79%), poaching (75%), encroachment on forest land (73%), limited wood fuel (71%), shortage of food (69%), population growth (68%), and destruction of planted crops by UWA (61%). Poverty (94%), resettlement (87%), errant community members (83%) and politicization of the forest resources (81%) were responsible for the occurrence of these conflicts. Main effects of these conflicts were; poor relations (100%), loss of incomes (83%), food insecurity (97%), destruction of habitats (84%), migration of animals to the Kenyan side of the park (81%). Resource use agreements (100%), Revenue sharing (100%), open firewood request (98%), meetings after 3 months (96%), Taungya farming system (92%) and mediation (83%) were some of the major mitigation strategies to these conflicts. The study revealed that forest resource conflicts at Chepkwasta Sub-County had negatively affected the livelihoods of communities living around the park mainly through destruction of food crops (97%) and the conservation initiatives in terms of habitat loss (84%). Government should embrace more productive measures towards positive involvement of the community in conservation while sustainably using forests resources. This can be through opening up community support projects for employment, business opportunities and schools.