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Skidmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Abstract

Tropical forests, especially in developing countries, continue to face serious threats of deforestation due to human pressures and poor management. These forests are at risk of disappearing and taking their water catchment and ecosystem services with them. Kizanda Villagers’ illegal woodfuel and polewood extraction poses a threat to the future health and existence of the Baga II Forest. This study, conducted from April 5th to April 19th, 2016, aimed to examine the use versus availability of tree species along the forest border. Twenty disturbance transects, each 4 meters wide, were conducted perpendicular to the Baga II forest border. The transects were extended for 50 m or until no cuts were observed for 10 m. Each transect was spaced 50 m apart and transects bordered both the Kwekulo Village Forest Reserve and village farms. Villager’s use, measured as cuts greater than 1 cm in diameter, were compared using descriptive statistics to the available stems that were >2 cm at DBH (Diameter at Breast Height). Location on the transect, cut age, and cut health were also recorded. To put these results in context, 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with a translator to understand villagers’ wood use and perspectives on forest conservation. The researcher’s guide, a Baga II patrolman, was also interviewed. Two hundred eighty one cuts and 1334 stems were observed. Six of the top ten cut species were also in the top ten most common species. All but three of the top eleven commonly cut species are known to be good fuelwood and timber. Species that were common, but not cut, all had smaller average DBHs than the species that were cut. The results supported the hypothesis that species cut roughly match the species present in the forest, however wood quality and stem size also appear to impact cut patterns. Villagers had generally homogenous, positive responses to forest conservation. All mamas (N = 20) grew Eucalyptus grandis and either Grevellea robusta (N = 17) or Acacia mearnsii (N = 16) on their farms for fuelwood. Responses to why forest conservation is important centered on rain, water resources, and climate. Cuts remain prevalent in the Baga II Forest, however agroforestry efforts appear to be partially meeting local demands. Efforts should continue to improve management, minimize illegal cutting of trees, and address the environmental and social concerns surrounding woodfuel and polewood consumption in developing countries.

Disciplines

Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Forest Biology | Natural Resources and Conservation | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

 

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