This paper examines the evolution of forest policy and legislation in Uganda from the colonial times to the present day and its impact and outcomes on the forest sector and livelihoods of local communities. It highlights a trend from highly regulatory colonial forest service (1898–1961) characterised by a centrally controlled and industry biased forest policy with limited local stakeholder participation; followed by the post independence era (1962–1971) that maintained the forest estate in a reasonably good condition through the process of command and control; through a non-directional phase characterised by disruption of economy, insecurity and impaired delivery of goods and services (1972–1986); to a more decentralised, participatory and people oriented approach that has typified the focus of the policy over the last two decades (1987-todate). It also presents the roles that different stakeholders have played in formulating the policy and legislation and analysis of issues pertinent to forest policy and legislation in Uganda, especially those that relate to decentralisation, divestment and participatory forest management. The forest policies were not translated adequately into operational tactics, strategies and programmes at the local and national levels. Despite reforms in the forest sector, new institutions created are not yet in position to effectively enforce forest rules and regulations on forest resource use, particularly private forests. We conclude that a forest policy without effective monitoring and enforcement of rules and regulations cannot maintain the forest estate in a good condition. There is a need for government to operationalise, monitor and evaluate existing forest policies rather than formulate new policies and laws.
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Vol. 10 • No. 4