Incidence Of Deforestation Among The Populace And Environment Of Odighi Community

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Incidence Of Deforestation Among The Populace And Environment Of Odighi Community


Abstract


In spite of their immeasurable benefits to life sustenance, the sustainable management of forest and forest resources in Nigeria is fraught with innumerable challenges such as the conflicting roles of the various stakeholders involved in forest management. Forests have since ancient times played an important role in the lives of people and the environment in general. That is, forests provided and continue to provide numerous benefits to humanity. This has repercussions for the environmental and livelihood patterns on the people especially the poor and the people who depend on the forest. It is in this vein that this study was undertaken to assess the effects of deforestation on the livelihood patterns of the forest fringe communities (farmers) in the Odighi community. The study adopted the case study research design in undertaking this systematic enquiry. This was adopted to help acquire knowledge on the current situation with regards to the phenomenon under consideration. Both primary and secondary data were collected and used for the study. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques to collect the necessary data and was analyzed in great depth to determine their implications for changing forest cover and livelihood patterns in the study area. The study showed that deforestation has affected crop production in the areas of delayed commencement of planting seasons, pest and diseases infestation, level and quality of crop yields and reduction in the income levels of farmers. The study recommended among other things, the continuous education and sensitization of farmers, strengthening of the public institution stakeholders and promotion of active research that will ensure a decline in deforestation.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Today forest occupy approximately one third of earth land area, account for two third of the leaf area of plants on land and contain 70 percent of carbon present in living things .Thus, the food and agricultural organization (FAO) of the united nations estimates that in 2000, 38.7 million square kilometer of land on earth is forested. Forest is essential to all human life because people who live within the forest zone depend on them for survival in many ways. These include food, medicine, fuel wood, shelter, clothing, timber, construction materials e.t.c. The forest also clean the air, water, ameliorate the climate, check water and wind erosion (Azeke, 2003). Forest contains roughly 90 percent of the world terrestrial biodiversity.

However, forest is a major causality of civilization as human population have increased over the past several thousand years (with the world population today estimated to number 7.001 billion by united state census Bureau) bringing deforestation, pollution and industrial usages problems to this important biome (forest).The contributions of forests to human well-being can only be sustained if the forests are themselves sustained.(Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO 1994).But Nigeria has lost most of her natural forest cover which is a serious problem, with forest loss occurring at a rate of 3.5 percent per year, which translate to a loss of 350,000 to 400,000 hectares per year (Adedoyin 2001, Aruofor 2000). Since 1990, the country has lost over 6 million ha or 36 percent of its forests cover. Nigeria has been losing an average 11 percent of its primary forest each year. This figure gives Nigeria the highest deforestation rate of natural forest in the world.

Deforestation is the removal of forest stand where the land is put to a non forest use (SAFnet Dictionary). Deforestation results from subsistence farming, commercial farming, road construction projects, logging, mining and dam construction. However, Hazel and Lutz (1998) attributed resources degradation in extensive rain fed farming (characteristic of tropical forest environment) areas to poverty and population growth. Scherr and Hazell (1994) also identified conversion of primary forest to agriculture, with attendant loss of biodiversity, climate change and expose of fragile soil as part of environmental problems emanating from rain fed farming (which cause deforestation).Deforestation could be caused by plantations and commodities and settlements.


1.2 Problem Statement

Forest fragmentation and deforestation remain as central problems in Nigeria, especially the high forest zone of Nigeria due, primarily, to both legal and illegal timber exploitation and arable crop farming (Amisah et al., 2009). The consequence has been a dramatic change in climate and evolution of strategies to sustain rural livelihoods. In most African countries the spate of deforestation has increased over the past four decades, with significant effects on rainfall, temperature, water resources, wildfire frequency, agriculture and livelihoods (Amisah et al., 2009).
In less developed countries, particularly those in Africa, livelihood insecurity remains a major problem (Shepherd et al., 1999 in Tropenbos International, 2005). Forest dependent communities in these countries, rely heavily on their farmlands. Many forest dependent people employ a diversity of means to help meet basic needs: food and cash crop production, forest and tree product gathering and income-earning enterprises both on and off the farm. Often, the poorer the household, the more diverse the sources of their livelihood, as the needs for the year must be made up from various off-farm as well as on-farm natural resources, and often from migrant labouring as well (Shepherd et al., 1999 in Tropenbos International, 2005).

At the beginning of the 21st Century, a third of Nigeria’s land area of 238,533 km2 was covered by high forest whilst the remaining was savannah woodland. Currently, only about 10 percent of this area remains as forested land. Logging, bush fires, agricultural practices, excessive exploitation of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) have been implicated (Amisah et al., 2009). Deforestation rates remain high and will probably increase in the coming years as the population grows and demand for new settlements, wood for construction, fuelwood, charcoal and food increases as a consequence (Amisah et al., 2009).

This frightening spate of forest degradation potentially poses enormous adverse effects on forest reserves. These forest communities exert excessive pressure on forest reserves as many of those living in such communities have their livelihoods predicated on the availability, access and utilization of forest products (Appiah, 2009).

The reasons being that, these forest resources are in a web within a system and any disturbance of one element will dislodge the equilibrium. Besides the imbalances created in the forests’ ecosystem, the depletion of the forest cover poses significant repercussions on the livelihood of people, particularly those in such forest fringe communities who depend heavily on the forest and its resources. It is in this vein that this study is being conducted to assess the effect of deforestation on livelihood patterns on forest communities in the Odighi community.


1.3 Research Questions

  1. What is the extent of deforestation in the Odighi community over the last ten years?
  2. What are the causes of deforestation in the Odighi community?
  3. What are the sources of livelihood in the Odighi community?
  4. How has the deforestation in the area affected the livelihood patterns in the study area?

1.4 Research Objectives

  1. Assess the extent of deforestation in the Odighi community.
  2. Identify the causes of deforestation in the Odighi community.
  3. Identify the sources of livelihood in Odighi community community
  4. Examine how deforestation has affected the livelihood patterns in the study area.

1.5 Scope of the Research

The scope of the research shows the coverage of study in terms of the context which also defines or influence the study this study focuses in deforestation in Odighi community in Edo state.


1.6 Significance of Study

Research is advanced in trying to understand the alternative livelihoods of forest communities. This work will go a long way to add to knowledge about the social and economic impacts of forest on the surrounding communities in Nigeria. The study will not only achieve its purpose but will also open up other avenues for further research to be done to add to the body of literature that exist on forestry and livelihoods as well as the impacts of forests have on communities that surrounds these areas in question.

The research is worth undertaking considering the frightening spate at which the country is losing it forest cover. It is obvious that the wave of deforestation is now knocking at the doors of existing forest and exerting maximum pressure on the regulatory processes of forest. The study will provide some useful reasons why we should preserve our forests beside sustainability reasons.


1.7 Organization of Chapters

The report was organized into five chapters.

  • The first chapter which is the background of the study comprises of the general introduction, the problem statement, the research questions, research objectives and purpose, scope of the research, justification and organization of the research report.
  • Chapter two is basically a literature review on key terminologies and concepts related to deforestation on the livelihood patterns of forest communities in the study area. Findings from the various chapters informed the data needs and requirements for empirical data collection from the field.
  • The third chapter looks at the methodology and profile of the study region. The methodology considered the data needs, sources of data, types of data, data analysis, sampling technique and sample size among others. The profile of the case region on the other hand showed the physical, social and economic characteristics of the study region which influence or explained some of the findings that were obtained from the analysis.
  • The fourth chapter dealt with the analysis of primary data collected from the field. Tools such as matrices and charts were used to analyze the data and also, provided quick visual impressions of the findings.
  • The key findings, conclusion and recommendations from the analysis were covered in the fifth chapter of the report.

Chapter Five


Summary of Findings, Recommendations and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

Extent of deforestation in the study area

The study showed that, there is a significant deforestation process in the study area. This is as a result of the fact that, most of the dwellers in the study area depend on agriculture, especially crop cultivation; which required the clearing and converting of vast forest areas into farmlands. From interviews with some of the farmers, it was pointed out that, the principal way they expand their farm sizes is by clearing additional virgin lands, which are usually forest areas. It was shown in the analysis that, just between 2006-2010 is 64.53 percent, implying an annual forest loss of 6.453 percent. This gives a clue about the spate of deforestation in the study communities. Conversely, the increase in farm sizes has not necessarily resulted in any significant increase in agricultural outputs. This phenomenon is distressing because, going by the current rate of change in the lands under cultivation of food crops alone will increase by 645.3 percent in the next ten years; which as a result, forest cover will experience a similar margin of deforestation.

Causes of Deforestation in the study area

The major causes of deforestation and forest degradation in the study forest communities include bad farming practices such as slash and burn method and clearing of vast forest lands for agricultural purposes. Though some of the farmers indicated that, illegal logging of trees are rampant in their communities; however they could not provide concrete evidence/data on the activities of such chain-saw operators. Additionally, the study showed that, hunting and gathering of NTFPs are other critical livelihood activities in the study area that divests the forest of its resources such as wildlife including game, mushrooms, snails, and among other things.

During the field survey, it was also realized in the study communities that, charcoal production was widespread and thus, serve as another livelihood activity that precipitates deforestation in the study area. During the survey, it was made known to the researcher that; many of the charcoal producers undertake their production in deep forests, which makes it challenging to track and forestall their activities.

Sources of Livelihood for Forest Communities in the Study Area

The study revealed that the crop farmers are engaged in the cultivation of both food and cash crops with a greater proportion of 83.3 percent producing solely food crops. The major food crops which are cultivated include cassava, maize and vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, groundnut, pepper and okro. The cash crops were mainly oil palm and tobacco and were grown on large scales as plantation farming.

Effects of deforestation on Crop Production 5.2.4.1Decline in Crop Output Levels

Crops yield is one of the major yardsticks in crop production which can be used to assess the effects of changing forest cover on livelihoods. Data gathered from the District Agricultural Development Unit revealed that the yield of most crops including maize, rice, cassava, cocoyam and plantain saw a decline in their production with the exception of yam which increased by 0.01 percent of 13.87 metric tonnes per hectare (refer to table 4.7). The study has demonstrated that, the yield of major crops in the study district have been decreasing over the years while the ones which experienced increases increase at a decreasing rate. For example the yield of maize which is one of the major crops cultivated in the study area experience a marginal drop of 0.74 percent from 2009 to 2010. (Refer to table 4.7 for details of the output levels of the various crops). This trend was similar with all the other crops that are cultivated in the District.


5.2 Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study, a number of recommendations are being made to help reduce deforestation and its effects on crop production and productivity and consequently livelihood alternatives in general. The recommendations have been offered to serve as explicit examples of strategies and measures that can be adopted to reduce deforestation and its impacts on crop production.

Education and Sensitization of Farmers

The respondents should be seriously educated about the rules governing the forest reserve, methods of tree production, sustainable forest management practices, conservation and livelihood based approaches. There is the need to introduce the extension services which is undertaken by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to educate the farmers. These extension officers will educate the respondents about forest conservation practices, how to sustain the forest reserve, good practices in handling of tree crops and the rules governing the use of forest reserve. The extension should be stationed in each of the communities in order for the person to easily accessible to the respondents.

Diversify the Local Economy through Training of the Respondents in Alternative Livelihood Ventures

The farmers should be trained in other alternative livelihood approaches such as Bee- keeping, grasscutter and snail rearing, garry processing and mushroom farming. This is so because of the high demand for honey, grasscutter, snail and mushroom in urban centers across the country. That is there is easy market for these products. For a start, five people each from the fringe communities should be selected, they should be giving training about bee-keeping, grasscutter rearing, garry processing and mushroom farming. The members who are willing to be trained are grouped in batches of fifteen and they are giving the necessary training. This should be a partnership between the community and the forestry commission. After that the trainees are helped to set up a business of their own through the revenues that are accruing from timber. The progresses of the trainees are monitored at least twice a month to see how they are faring. When this is done the respondents will become less dependent on the forest reserve for their survival and this will diversify the local economy.


5.3 Conclusion

In conclusion, the study established that deforestation imparts the life’s of respondents in many areas including affecting crop production in the areas of delayed commencement of planting seasons, pest and diseases infestation, level and quality of crop yields, access to water for irrigation farming and reduction in the income levels of farmers. Although several efforts have been initiated to mitigate these impacts the study revealed that they have been thwarted by challenges such as low institutional capacity, unavailability of funds, unfavorable farming methods and low educational background of farmers. Given the critical role crop production in the livelihood of the residents as well as economy of the region, it is imperative that pragmatic measures are adopted to mitigate the negative impacts that deforestation is having on it. In this regard the study recommended continuous education and sensitization of farmers, strengthening of the public institutional stakeholders and promotion of active research as some of the ways for mitigating the impacts of climate change on crop production.


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