Journal of Biodiversity Management & ForestryISSN: 2327-4417

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Field Assessment of Environment Policy Operationalisation in Forest Tree Biodiversity Conservation in Uganda

Policies guide management, and practical implementation of national policies is central to their effective operationalisation in the field. On-ground changes in agrarian systems in response to new policies often lead to the transformation of landscapes as a result of management. In Uganda, deforestation proceeds despite the regulations and guidelines in the National Environment Management Policy (NEMP). The purpose of our study was to determine the effectiveness of the operationalisation of the NEMP in Uganda, a case study of Kalangala District. We used historical data, field observations and interviews to identify indicators to measure the operationalisation of the NEMP. In Kalangala District, key forest categories were identified as cultural-private, commercial-private, and publicgazetted management. We carried out tree species forest inventories, interviewed community members living around these forests and forest managers. We conducted a document analysis of the NEMP policies and standards plus other forest management plans and compared them with grassroots realities in forest restoration and conservation. Historical data from 1990 to 2015 show reduction in forest vegetation cover from near 60 per cent to under 20 per cent in 25 years. Measurements and counts of current tree populations reveal minimal differences in tree species biodiversity and similar conservation practices among the three categories of forest management systems. Local residents and forest managers reported reductions in the diversity of forest tree species and essential forest ecosystem goods and services. Forest management plans are in line with the NEMP and other international standards, but observations and interviews reveal that current field activities do not indicate success in the effective operationalisation of the NEMP to mitigate the loss of forest tree biodiversity. To overcome current challenges, we identify and describe key indicators for developing a comprehensive tool for the consistent monitoring of the operationalisation of the NEMP

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