On-farm tree diversity in landslide prone areas in Sironko District along Mt. Elgon ranges
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Abstract It is estimated that Uganda lost half of its overall biodiversity between 1975 and 1995. To date, slowing the rate of biodiversity loss remains a great challenge to the society resulting into negative impacts such low landscape stability hence landslides especially in steep slopes. As natural ecosystems contract, agricultural landscapes turn to be the best option for biodiversity conservation. Although farm lands promote in-situ and ex-situ tree diversity conservation, the status of the on-farm tree diversity has not been documented. Thus this study was conducted with three objectives; i. To assess the on-farm tree species richness in landslide prone areas. ii. To assess the tree species abundance in landslide prone areas. iii. To determine the on-farm tree diversity in landslide prone areas of Sironko District. The study was conducted following a cross sectional survey design where three sub counties prone to landslides were i.e. Masaba, Butandiga and Zesui were purposively selected. In every sub county, a village was randomly selected from a complete list of villages. In each village 30 garden plots were randomly selected. On every garden 2-3 transects were established from which square subplots of 20×20m were established at a spacing of 5m to increase uniformity. On every subplot, trees were counted, tallied and identified by the species name, local name and the family using the tree identification book titled “Useful trees and shrubs of Uganda” by Katende et al., 1995. Using Shannon wiener index of biodiversity, the on-farm tree species diversity was determined. A total of 19 tree species were identified from 12 families with a total abundance of 254 in Masaba Sub County. In Butandiga Sub County, 20 tree species were identified from 14 families with a total abundance of 204. While 19 species identified from 14 families in Zesui with a total abundance of 231. A tree diversity index obtained was H'=2.4060.A comparison of the tree species abundance using ANOVA at 95%CI showed no significant difference in species abundance in landslide prone areas (p˃0.05). From the quantitative assessment, the tree species richness and tree abundance in the study area was low. The two parameters contributed to the averagely lower tree diversity in the area. The government and other stakeholders should implement restoration programs targeting least abundant species while locals should encourage bylaws targeting sustainable consumption of on-farm wood species. The area of the study should be marked as risky for settlements in one way of Disaster Risk Management in Uganda.