Community engagement in the management of Mpanga Forest Reserve, Mpigi District
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ABSTRACT The study was conducted in five villages that were found adjacent to Mpanga Central Forest Reserves in Mpigi district in March 2019. Its overall objective was to determine local community engagement in the management of Mpanga Central Forest Reserves. The specific objectives were to: 1.To establish the measures that can be used to improve community participation in CFM of Mpanga CFR 2.To evaluate the level of participation and involvement of local communities in the management of the CFR. 3. To establish the benefits and challenges involved in CFM of Mpanga CFR. The study was a cross sectional survey which employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches. It involved 60 households and the NFA staff members responsible for the daily activities of the reserve. Data were obtained using questionnaires, focus group decision, direct observation, reviewing of literature and was later analyzed and interpreted using statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). The study findings indicate that local communities have limited roles in the decision making process and planning of forests reserve management activities since the decision making process is a top-to-bottom approach, where the government officials and NFA make decisions and impose them on the local people who act as observers or passive actors. The local people around Mpanga CFR do seriously depend on the forest reserve for their livelihood resources. The main resources obtained from the reserve comprise of water, local herbs, land farming, firewood, wild foods, craft making materials and poles among others and they are extracted in the different methods. The community enjoys benefits such as open access to the reserve but with control of the NFA staff responsible for management of the reserve, resources for sustaining livelihood. However, the local people are faced with a range of challenges in the managing of the reserve. Some the challenges include; lack of human capacity building due to limited or training of community members in aspects of forest management and use. From the study, it is recommended that; (I)There should be awareness campaigns and capacity building among the communities around the reserve by both state and private organizations on how to effectively manage and use the forest reserve in the sustainable way and to inform the local importance of the forest reserve,(II)There should be a review of the current forest policies so that they can be able to address the challenges of limited community participation in the management of central forest reserves and (III) Encouraging proper networking and co-operation between the local community and the central forest reserve governing agencies to facilitate proper flow of information and co-ordination in the management activities of the forest reserve.