Impacts of Participatory Management of Ruvu North Forest Reserve on Reforestation and Food Availability in Two Villages in Kibaha District
The study explored the impacts of participatory management of Ruvu North forest reserve on reforestation and food availability to farmers in two villages in Kibaha District. Specifically the objectives were: (i) to find out number of households that participated in tree planting and the survival rates of trees during the project life; (ii) to enquire the reasons for famer’s participation in tree planting and tending; (iii) to appraise the land available for farming households before and at end of the project’s life; (iv) to assess the households food availability at the beginning and end of the project’s life; (v) to determine the growth rates of planted tree species and then estimate the age when they attain withies, pole and timber size classes and (vi) to examine the tree tenure arrangement in the study area. A questionnaire was used to collect socio economic data from fifty farming households sampled purposively. A systematic sampling of trees was carried out on three farms to assess the growth rates of trees. Farmers provided the age of woodlots. Interviews with key informants and observations complemented data collection methods. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed using GenStart statistical package and content analysis respectively. Growth of trees was analyzed by MS Excel spread sheet. Correlations between height, diameter breast height (dbh) and age were generated and the results presented in form of graphs. The results showed increased number of participating households for 5 year with about 1/3 being headed by women. One point three million trees were planted and 0.73million survived at the rate 58.2%. Land was acquired through buying (33%) and allocation by village government (2%). Before project 95.4% of respondents had farms of 1.0 hectare or less. Respondents benefited by gaining access to fertile forest land, getting poles, charcoal, cash for paying school fees, firewood and building houses. Households produced sufficient food crops only at the beginning of the project and currently 78% have food shortages. Mean dbh, height and age of trees showed strong linear correlations (r2 = 0.997 to 0.679). Trees yielded withies and poles at the age of 2.5 and 5 years respectively. Trees will reach a dbh of 60-65cm after 30 years of growth. It was concluded that farming households cannot exist without forest woodlots. Therefore contract agreements to manage the woodlots should be extended for the next 20 years so that farmers can harvest and sell timber.
Key words: Participatory forest management, tree survival, growth rates and food availability, Ruvu North Forest Reserve.