Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 347–363 | Cite as

Traditional management and conservation of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa subspecies nilotica) in Uganda

  • Samson Gwali
  • John Bosco Lamoris Okullo
  • Gerald Eilu
  • Grace Nakabonge
  • Philip Nyeko
  • Peter Vuzi


Traditional practices are universally recognised as a basis for conservation of biodiversity. However, such practices are often not included in natural resource conservation policies. This study assessed local conservation practices of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) within different farming systems in Uganda and developed conservation guidelines for the species. The assessment involved 300 respondents, 15 focus groups and 41 key informants. Content analysis was used to identify the most important management and conservation practices. Local uses were categorised on the basis of shea tree products while differences in conservation practices were analysed using the Friedman test. The results show that eight shea tree products are used for 36 different purposes. Respondents’ age significantly influenced their knowledge about the shea tree. Traditional conservation practices include on-farm retention during cultivation and the use of folklore (mainly taboos), customs and rituals. Traditional management practices include weeding, bush burning, pollarding and pruning. Based on the current management and traditional conservation practices, a framework for the conservation of shea trees is proposed for integration into conservation policy decisions.


Shea tree Vitellaria paradoxa Conservation Taboos Folklore Traditional knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samson Gwali
    • 1
    • 2
  • John Bosco Lamoris Okullo
    • 1
  • Gerald Eilu
    • 1
  • Grace Nakabonge
    • 1
  • Philip Nyeko
    • 1
  • Peter Vuzi
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Forestry, Environmental and Geographical SciencesMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  2. 2.National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NaFORRI)KampalaUganda
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda

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