Vegetation dynamics in western Uganda during the last 1000 years: climate change or human induced environmental degradation?
A multi-proxy analysis of microfossils from sedimentary records, together with evidence from historical and archaeological data, has provided evidence of vegetation dynamics and human environment interactions in western Uganda for the last 1000 years. Pollen, fungal spores and phytoliths extracted from sediment cores obtained from a papyrus swamp at Munsa archaeological site indicate a relatively wet and forested environment in western Uganda prior to ca 1000 yr bp (cal 977–1159 ad). A subsequent decline in forest vegetation occurred from ca 920 yr bp (cal 1027–1207 ad). However, the deforestation period occurred during a wet period as registered in the River Nile water records, suggesting a human induced deforestation at Munsa rather than reduced precipitation. Increased numbers of herbivores, presumably domesticated cattle, postdeforestation are evidenced by the presence of dung fungal spores and broad accord with the archaeological evidence for initial occupation of the site at Munsa and the establishment of a mixed economy based on crops, cattle and iron working between 1000 and 1200 ad.
- Natural Sciences