An assessment of active restoration outcomes for a tropical forest In Mount Elgon National Park, eastern Uganda
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Restoration is increasingly being used to reverse degradation and destruction of forest ecosystems. With increasing investment in restoration e.g UWA-FACE Foundation restored 8,500 hectares in Mt. Elgon nation park, there is limited knowledge on active restoration outcomes in the region. This study was contacted in Mt. Elgon national park eastern Uganda mainly to assess ecological outcomes 26 years since active restoration started. Nested plots were established in the restoration sites and reference forest, to measure seedlings (5cm or less), saplings (6 less or equal to 20cm) and mature trees (greater than 20cm). Species diversity, evenness, abundance, richness, composition and forest structure were computed. Forest structure was assessed by calculating the mean herbaceous and canopy cover as a percentage per plot and the sum of basal area (m2/ha) assuming all stems have a circular cross section in restoration sites and reference forest. Species abundance was significantly different between restored than reference forest. However, species richness, evenness and Shannon diversity were not significantly different between the restored and reference forests. Species composition of a 26year-old actively restored forest was different from that of the reference forest. Herbaceous cover and basal area were higher in the restored forest than the reference forest. While canopy cover was significantly higher in the reference than the restored forest. It was concluded that actively restored forests take more than 26 years for species abundance converge to that of reference forest. However, species richness, evenness and Shannon diversity can be achieved after 26 years of restoration. The study concludes that tree species composition as opposed to species richness, evenness and diversity in restored sites takes longer than 26 year to recover in tropical forests.