Assessing the impacts of decentralization on livelihood, biodiversity and ecological sustainability in Uganda: A preliminary analysis of the pilot SANREM/IFRI site

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Uganda: Uganda Forest Resources and Institutions Center (UFRIC), Makerere University

In this paper we seek to assess the implication of decentralization on livelihood, biodiversity and ecological sustainability in Uganda. We aim to explain the change in woody-cover distributions in the Mabira Forest Reserve in the patches around Nakalanga and Kirugu settlements located on the northwestern edge of the forest. The purpose of the investigation was to further the understanding of how resource regimes, governed through a particular, enduring sociopolitical structure (decentralization), affect local use and management decisions in forest biomes as smallholders further integrate into external markets. Forest product use, residents' occupation, food security, land, and food decisions are analyzed to assess the importance of the forest on community livelihoods. The expansion of sugarcane in the Mabira forest edge, the introduction of collaborative forest management, and forest governance are linked to the sustainability of the current property arrangements and production systems practiced. Uganda's historical forest policy insights are presented to aid in better understanding of institutional design for environmental governance in forest biomes that partly explain existing outcomes of not only local users (e.g., livelihood and flow of resources), but also stakeholders at national, regional, and global levels. Although decentralization is fully institutionalized as a governance strategy, there is yet limited impact of decentralization policy on the livelihood of residents at the local level.

Livelihoods, Biodiversity, Decentralization, Sustainability, Mabira forest, Governance
Presented at SANREM LTR #1 partner meeting, Bloomington, Indiana, 27-28 February 2008 and the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 29 February 2008