The role of indigenous knowledge in forest conservation: case study of Kazimzumbwi Forest Coast Region

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Kampala International University, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Though forests give a lot of benefits to the local communities, they are threatened by over exploitation as a result of deforestation activities the main driving force behind this deforestation is land conversion, slash and burn agriculture, shifting cultivation and fuel wood gathering. In Kazimzumbwj, an ancient custom is slash and burn agriculture or shifting cultivation where by trees are cut down, allowed to dry, and then burnt to create nutrient ashes, which are mixed with soils in the cleared patch of forests. This study was conducted in July 2007 in Kazimzumbwi forest reserve, within the Tanzanian Coastal region. During the study fifty respondents were interviewed from the area. The aim of the study was to assess the role of indigenous knowledge on conservation of forests in Kazimzumbwi forest reserve. The specific objectives were to find out the cultures and traditional practices which were essential in conservation of forests, to find out the level of awareness on forests conservation, and to examine indigenous land use systems in relation to conservation of forests. Data collection involved both quantitative and qualitative methods. Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect data from respondents and key informants. The researcher also used focus group discussions. The data collected was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). The study revealed the age structure as follows, those between 51-60 were 28%, 61-70 and 30-40 both were 22%, 41-50 were 18% and 71 and above were 10%. Such statistics indicate that majority of the respondents fell in the group of the age of 51 years and above i.e. 60% of the respondents while the remaining 40% were those below 51 years. Therefore, we expect that majority of the Kazimzumbwi residents are conversant with indigenous knowledge but it seems that it was not integrated in the forest conservation efforts. The study concluded that local institutions such as traditional leadership, traditional healers, ritual forest, and various taboos and sacred sites and practices have an active role in conservation and utilization of the forests and• wildlife resources. At the moment these local institutions receive less attention. This is caused by socioeconomic changes attributed by civilization and religious beliefs, which tend to make the young generation not to follow the traditional rules which are pivoted on fear.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for award of the degree of bachelor of science in environmental management of Kampala International university, Kampala, Uganda
Indigenous knowledge, Forest conservation