This study assessed the role of urban homegardens in woody species conservation in Bekoji Town, southeast Ethiopia. Ninety-six homegardens were identified using multistage sampling technique. Woody species inventory was made in 310 3m*10m quadrants. Shannon and Weaver diversity index (H`), reciprocal of Simpson diversity index (1-D), evenness index (J`) and Margalef richness index (Dmg) were computed to determine alpha diversity. Homegardens` and their owners` characteristics were characterized using semi-structured questionnaire. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to test associations between the attributes and diversity indices. Thirty families containing 49 woody species were identified. Fabaceae, Rosaceae, and Myrtaceae were the most abundant family. Eucalyptus globules and Cupressus lusitanica were dominant exotic species. Vernonia amygdalina, Brucea antidysenterica, Olea europaea and Lippia abyssinica were most abundant native species. The value of H`, J`, Dmg and 1-D were 1.60, 0.80, 2.11 and 0.94, respectively. Woody species diversity in homegardens positively associated with age and area of homegardens. These results imply magnificent contribution of old and large homegardens in conservation of woody species specifically natives. Therefore, management decisions on reducing dominancy of exotic species through seedlings supply and encouraging homegarden owners to plant multipurpose native species are important to maintain species diversity.
Keywords: Urban ecosystem, Woody species, Native species, Species diversity, Urban forest.