Forest sector reforms, livelihoods and sustainability in Western Uganda
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The chapter discusses whether Uganda’s 2003 forest-sector reform improved livelihood and forest management. The reform policy changed the management and ownership of 85% of Uganda’s forested land. The research conducted to determine the impact of the reform involved an experimental research design that compares pre- and post-reform data for a sample of households located next to three large forests in Uganda. The impacts of the reform are evaluated through examination of two of these sample groups whose adjacent forest was affected by the policy change. The author examines household income portfolio data and changes in forest sustainability are evaluated using household perception of forest quality and cover since the policy was implemented. The article presents the finding that no evidence was found to indicate that the reform had favorable impact upon livelihood and sustainability outcomes. In the Gugoma forest site, the reform did not significantly change the contribution of forest products to household incomes, and forest quality and cover greatly declined. Large gains in the contribution of forest products to the income of wealthy families were observed in Budongo forest site. Institutional failures (i.e. a lack of community involvement in forest management and policies that favor the wealthy) were seen as the cause of livelihood improvements. No change or a slight decline in forest cover and quality accompany income gains for wealthy families. A case study that examined the relationship of roles and incentives necessary to realize beneficial policy outcomes indicates that success of any forest governance reform relies upon the institution-building capacity of communities and government agencies. The article underlines the importance of integrating forest and agricultural policy in Uganda - if agricultural needs are not addressed and managed, Uganda will continue to lose forests to land-use conversion.
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