Community Willingness to Participate in Law Enforcement against Illegal Timber Harvesting, Hoima District: A Case of Bugoma Forest
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The purpose of this research was to investigate community willingness to participate in law enforcement against illegal timber harvesting. It also highlights on some challenges that may Prohibit participation in forest law enforcement and the strategies that can be used to enhance community participation. The management of forest resources in Uganda falls mostly in the hands of the government although communities surrounding these resources are recognized as stakeholders. With such rich forest resources, communities living around these resources happen to be poor, generally peasant farmers and petty traders since the creation of the reserves has limited their interaction with the forest. Communities surrounding Bugoma central forest reserve in the western region are of no exception. Before the creation of the reserves, members of the communities could freely go into the forest and collect products like mushrooms, snails, grass-cutter, medicinal herbs to mention but few. Some of these products were sold to earn some additional income. In creating such profit oriented reserves, it is expected that communities surrounding these reserves get some benefits which would help improve their living conditions. The result of the research indicates that majority of the members around the Bugoma Forest Reserve are willing to participate in enforcing forest laws against illegal timber harvesting. It has also been revealed that when communities participate in the management of the forest resources, the employment opportunities created as a result would enable them earn some revenue which would help them improve on their living conditions and reduce poverty in the long run. To ensure the sustainable use of the resource it is shown that there should be community sensitization programs and environmental education trainings which would also improve collaboration. Although some of the members from the communities were willing to participate in enforcing forest laws others were not. Furthermore, most members of the communities were interested to participate to protect the forest resource since it supports crop cultivation in terms of fertile soils and climate modification. The communities around Bugoma Forest Reserve need more education in order to enhance their participation and ensure sustainable forest management. There should also be benefit sharing for all stakeholders and improved communication and dialogue which can help in managing conflicts.