African forests have been negatively affected because of human impacts. The use of forest products is high for lower-income communities. Excessive logging alters the forest patch structure and composition, causing degradation. In addition, increases in bushmeat hunting for sustenance and trade result in increased pressures on forest mammalian species. We investigated forest use by rural communities residing around forest patches in uMthatha, Eastern Cape, and iNgeli and Creighton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We selected villages to conduct interviews based on their proximity to forest patches sampled during our camera trap surveys (May 2018 – June 2019). We conducted 303 interviews using semi-structured questionnaires and analysed these. A higher proportion of respondents (38%, n = 117) conveyed that the forest extent increased over ten years, mainly because the settlement residents did not use the forest often. Afrocarpus falcatus and Ptaeroxylon obliquum were the preferred native tree species to be logged because of their sturdiness and durability for building structures and fencing. The most hunted mammalian species included the southern bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus ) and common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia ). The most significant reason for residents hunting was for consumption, followed by financial gain. According to respondents, ungulates are the most frequently targeted for consumption in lower-income settlements and are an important source of protein. Some participants in our study expressed that mammalian species' numbers are dwindling because of people overhunting. An emerging trend in our study was the high cultural importance placed on the forest. Forest resources are more likely to be used sustainably if appropriate measures such as capacity building for security guards as well as clear rules and regulations about hunting and plant harvesting are applied. Incorporating socio-economic aspects into ecological management is of benefit for forest conservation.
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2 August 2022
Some Perspectives on the Use and Value of Southern Mistbelt Forests to Surrounding Rural Communities in Northern Eastern Cape, and Southern Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Mbalenhle T. Sosibo,
Yvette C. Ehlers Smith,
David A. Ehlers Smith,
Colleen T. Downs