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ITFC Theses

An impressive number of MSc and PhD student projects has been carried out and supervised from ITFC since 1988. Many of the graduates have gone on to occupy important positions in conservation and education throughout the country. Find here a chronological overview;  hard copies of (most ) these are available in ITFC's library.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (hereafter called Bwindi) is an Afromontane forest that has probably existed since the Pleistocene and Holocene times. The forest was first used by Batwa the for hunting and wild fruit/yams gathering up to the mid-16
agriculturists came and started clearing forest patches for farming. In 1991, Bwindi forest was gazetted a national park and restrictions on forest use by local people were imposed resulting in conflict between park managers and the local people. To mitigate the conflict, park management introduced a Multiple Use Programme (MUP) that involved local people accessing the forest for some livelihood resources such as plants for medicines and basketry.

Under the MUP, local people were allowed access to a few forest resources and not all important livelihoods requirements were granted. Forest resources such as firewood, building poles, bush- meat, fruits, wild fruits, yams and fish were not permitted under the MUP. Despite the several reviews carried out on Bwindi’s MUP, the programme has up to now failed to confirm to key definitions of collaborative forest management like elsewhere in other protected areas (PAs) of Uganda. The RUCs in Bwindi meet less frequently than those of other PAs. Local people around Bwindi have lost interest in the RUC meetings and view forest access in Bwindi as being very restrictive. Furthermore, there is less cohesion and cooperation among the RUCs of Bwindi than those from other PAs.

Indeed through village and resource user interviews, this study found out that the most preferred forest resources for the local people around Bwindi were mainly those prohibited by park


century when Bakiga and Bafumbira

management. Also there was a significant difference between the Batwa and the Bakiga, men and women in forest resource preferences. To understand how Bwindi’s MUP contributes to local people’s livelihoods and income, this study carried out village interviews and market surveys around Bwindi. Results show that there was a significant difference in local people’s attitudes on benefits got from the MUP among three categories of parishes (non-multiple use, beekeeping zone and plant harvest zone parishes). Local people involved in the MUP had the most positive attitudes than those not involved. There was a significant difference between the three categories of parishes in mean annual incomes from the sale of forest products. Beekeeping for honey is the most lucrative contributing to a mean annual income of 298,000ushs (114USD) per beekeeper. This study concluded that the MUP has helped contribute a small but important livelihood and income to the forest resource users around Bwindi.

To understand the ecological implications of harvesting the forest resources from Bwindi, a forest survey was carried. Results show that plant stem densities were highest in the harvest zones than in non-harvest zones. Furthermore, non-harvest zones had more large sized individuals than the harvest zones. Annual bark production of Ocotea usambarensis tree and annual stem growth rates of Piper guineense and Milletia dura were not significantly different between the two zones. There was a significant relationship between environmental variables (% tree canopy cover and altitude) and stem densities of most plants. Multiple use guidelines have been proposed by this study to improve Bwindi’s MUP.

Diversity and Distribution of Canopy Hemi-Parasitic Plant Species in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, South Western Uganda - 2015

Bwindi forest has an exceptionally diverse flora and fauna that supports many species of conservation importance. The forest is, however, currently facing several management challenges, including the deficiency of data on several taxa. The canopy hemi-parasitic plant species (Mistletoes) have for example received little attention. Their identity, diversity, distribution and abundance are not well known. This study surveyed canopy hemi-parasitic plant species of Bwindi forest and determined their diversity and distribution. The specific objectives were to: i) determine the diversity of canopy hemi-parasitic plant species and their host plants in the disturbed and lightly disturbed sites; ii) determine the distribution abundance of canopy hemi-parasitic plants in relation to host characteristics; and iii) relate diversity and distribution of canopy hemi-parasitic plant species to local environmental factors. The forest was stratified into two non-overlapping strata, based on disturbance intensity (disturbed and lightly disturbed forest communities) for data collection. Transects of 1km long were established in disturbed and less disturbed forest communities in each study zone. Data was collected from 20m x 20m plots on alternating sides of each transect. Species composition was compared between disturbed and lightly disturbed sites using analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM). The average dissimilarity (SIMPER) was also considered in all study sites. Spearman rank correlation was used to examine the abundance of hemi-parasitic plants in relation to host characteristics. Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) was used to determine the relationship between the distribution of parasitic species and environmental variables. The results show that a total of 21 canopy hemi-parasitic plant species in six genera and within two families (i.e. Loranthaceae and Viscaceae), occurs in Bwindi. These were hosted by 45 tree species occurring in 28 families. The diversity of hemi-parasitic plants ranged from 1.94-1.92 index and hosts2.43 -2.02and distribution was moderate with evenness (J􏰀) of 0.687. Canopy hemi- parasite plant communities were different in all the study sites, and their abundance, distribution and diversity follows the distribution of preferred hosts. There is a need to conserve host plant diversity in order to maintain the diversity of hemi-parasitic plant species.

Wildlife Conservation in the Long Term – Uganda as a Case Study - 1995

This study considers the economic value of conservation to Uganda as a nation, on the basis that if too few benefits flow to the nation, and too many flow to the planet at large, conservation will represent a national dis-benefit and therefore be under permanent threat. The main potential cost to Uganda is seen as the agriculture foregone by setting land aside for National Parks and Game Reserves. Looking ahead 30 years (to 2025), it assumes a largely rural population, 2.6 time larger than at time of writing, when empty tracts of land, set aside for conservation, will potentially be a massive, underutilised resource.

The Impact of Elephants on Agricultural Productivity - 2001

African elephants  can have huge impacts on agricultural productivity when they cross paths with human settlements. Such problems are common in Wakyato Sub-county, Luwero District, Uganda. Literature, direct measurements and household interviews were used to evaluate crop damage by elephants, assess the methods used by farmers to deter elephant raids, learn about attitudes to wildlife, and lastly, to examine the potential benefits that the local communities have with respect to the presence of elephants and other wildlife.

The Diversity and Distribution of Trees and Vascular Epiphytes in Forests in Western Uganda - 2004

Tropical rainforests (TRFs) are generally characterised by high species diversity and endemism compared with most other ecosystems. In Africa, TRFs are concentrated along the equatorial belt, a region corresponding with high precipitation. Over 50% of the world’s biodiversity is believed to live in the tropics, and while the destruction of flora is a worldwide problem, it is most prevalent in the tropics. Vascular epiphytes are a group of vascular plants that are relatively understudied in Uganda. About 24,000 of all vascular plant species are epiphytic and they constitute about 50% of the vascular plants in very wet tropical forests, making their research and conservation vital.