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Forests play a critical role in providing essential goods and services to forest adjacent communities. There is, however, insufficient information on how land uses affect the availability and use of forest products and services by forest adjacent communities. This study analysed the impacts of land use changes on the livelihoods of Mt Elgon forests adjacent communities. Land use changes were assessed for the period 1977-2019 segmented into four time periods corresponding to remote sensing data obtained for the years 1977, 1986, 1999 and 2019. Household surveys were conducted using structured questionnaires administered to 387 respondents. The questionnaires assessed how changes in land uses has impacted livelihoods. Analysis of data revealed that between 1977 and 2019, the size of land under natural forest has declined by 18%, bamboo declined by 15% while grasslands declined by 13%. On the contrary, the size of land under mixed farming and fallow increased by 30% and 27% respectively. Majority of the households (91%) were affirmative that they obtained products from Mt Elgon forest pointing to the importance of the forest to the communities living adjacent to the forest. Households closer to the forest were more reliant on the forest than those that lived farther away. The use of forest resources has been declining from 1970s with herbal medicine, game meat and wild fruits experiencing the highest decline of 28%, 27% and 24% respectively. The high dependency of the forest-adjacent communities on the Mt. Elgon forests call for enhanced conservation of the forest ecosystem and sustainable utilization of forest resources.
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