The impact of anthropogenic activities on the status of natural belts in Bugamba central forest reserve in Mbarara district
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The study was carried out in Bugamba sub county Rwampara county Mbarara district. The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of anthropogenic activities on the status of natural belts in Bugamba Central Forest Reserve. The specific objectives of the study were to: (i) Assess the tree species diversity of natural belts in Bugamba Central Forest Reserve, (ii) Assess the perceived impacts of anthropogenic activities on the status of natural belts in Bugamba Central Forest Reserve, (iii) Explore approaches for promoting sustainable management of natural belts in Bugamba Central Forest reserve. Data was collected through the use of questionnaires, interviews, reviewing secondary information and direct observations. Data concerning tree species diversity was collected from twenty two (22) square plots of (20*20) m. A total of 416 individuals belonging to 34 species were recorded out of an area of 0.9ha in Bugamba Central Forest Reserve and the data later analyzed using Simpson’s diversity index. The highest scores were recorded by Markhamia lutea with 77 individuals and 18.5%, Celtis africana with 29 individuals and 6.97%. The findings of the study indicate that natural belts in Bugamba Central Forest Reserve have relatively high tree species diversity with (D) = 0.85. Data concerning people’s perceptions was collected using Questionnaires, edited, coded and entered in IBM SPSS version 23 for analysis. Cultivation and grazing were reported as the major anthropogenic activities with 58.8% and 25.0% respectively. Assessment of tree species diversity and the extent of anthropogenic activities are important for sustainable utilization, conservation and management of forest resources. Documenting the patterns of tree species diversity and their distribution provides a good database useful for drafting management measures. This study should be useful to researchers and forest management authorities for the effective management of Bugamba Central Forest Reserve especially the natural belts. Maintaining the natural level of biodiversity by carrying out enrichment planting in forest gaps with natural seedlings to boost degraded part of the forest reserve and improve on the species richness is vital as well as sensitizing and educating the local communities about the importance of conserving the forest and the consequences of exploiting them unsustainably as well as involving all stakeholders in the management of the forest reserve.