The Level Of Community Participation In The Conservation Of Natural Resources
This study was carried out on the level of community participation in the conservation of natural resources. in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Southern Cross River State, Nigeria is aimed at establishing the extent of community participation in natural resources conservation in the study area. The Ex-post facto research design was adopted. To achieve the purpose of this study, two null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. The simple random sampling technique was adopted in selecting six communities while the multi-stage stratified random sampling technique and accidental sampling technique was used to select the two hundred and fifty (250) community members used for the study. A fifteen (15) items four points likert scale questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. To test the hypotheses, Dependent t-test statistical analysis technique was used for data analysis. The results obtained from analysis of data revealed that, the level of participation significantly influences forest resources conservation. In the second hypothesis, the result also shows that community involvement has a significant influence on wildlife conservation. Based on these findings, it was recommended that awareness creation on environmental conservation should become integral part of community organizations.
1.1 Background of the Study
Conservation practices all over the world are changing from the traditional management approach with emphasis on managing natural resources in a way that ensures greater flow to all stakeholders especially local communities. The shift in emphasis is informed by the fact that the local communities are inextricably tied to their cultural resources based whether used as a source of food, medicine, fuel or for maintaining ecological balance (Bisong, 2001) Thus, sustainable management of natural resources requires a more comprehensive approach which include strengthening the organization and technical capabilities of rural communities, as well as engendering support for sustainable resources use from larger community group (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2005).
The rapid loss of natural resources in developing countries has become a subject of increasing international and National Concern. This is reflected in the substantial increase in the interest accorded to environmental conservation by various governments, donors and conservation agencies. The level of interest in conservation as an environmental and development problem requires practical action (Flint, 1990). the justification for community participation in natural resources conservation as viewed by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 1990 provides that human culture must be based on a respect for nature and that the present generation have a social responsibility to conserved Nature for the welfare of future generation. The view recognizes that mankind is part of nature and that all species have an inherent right to exist regardless of their materials value to humans.
In recent times, the development communities in African have moved from “top-down” approach towards more participatory “bottom up” approaches. The shift in paradigm has occurred in recognition of the fact that local cooperation, participation and management are crucial to achieving both short term development result and long-term sustainability. Along the same lines, the conservation community is beginning to appreciate the necessity of incorporating local participating in environmental conservation Efforts. (Bamberger 1986).
The development, community participation may be viewed as a process that serves as instrument of empowerment, building beneficiary capacity, increase effectiveness desire to share cost, improve efficiency in relation to project (Paul, 1987).
To maximize the chances of sustainable conservation initiatives, rural communities need to be involved in both the concept and approach. This means that participation in decision-making process and in the evaluation, monitoring and management of resources and the environment is crucial.
This inclusiveness is more likely to build a conservation ethics where people understand that their livehood depends on healthy maintenance of the environment.
Many studies have shown community participation to be one of the critical empowerment of success is irrigation, livestock, water, forestry and agriculture projects (Sharp, 1984) community participation has become therefore very important to scholars, organizations and Nations. For instance, Ajake (1998) remarked that participation has been used to justify the extension of state forest control as well as the building of local capacity and self-reliance. It has been used to justify decision imposed by external agencies as well as describe the process of developing real power and decision making.
Experience has shown that participation grows more out of practical than normative considerations. One of the most expensive forestry programmes with community participation is that operated by village forestry associations in South Korea (AHN 1978; Eckholm, 1979) and the afforestation sub-project in Nepal (World Bank, 1975). Other experiences include community conservation in Tsavo West National park, Kenya where the local communities are involved and have benefited from conservation of protected areas. A reforestation project in Senegal gained impressive results as Senegal forest service works in rural community and councils providing them with inputs, while the village councils contribute labour to plant trees. Income generated from the sale of wood was used by the council according to its own priorities (Uphoft, 1986).
The need for communities to invest in natural resources conservation and to reduce the effect of environmental degradation is indisputable in Nigeria and particularly in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State. The people in the study area are highly dependent on forest ecosystem for its diverse and abundant Natural wildlife, land, food and water resources. The importance of these resources has caused indigenous people to diverse way of managing them sustainably. But evidence has shown that the activities of the rural people are not given consideration. In research and government policies and decisions on the management of Natural resources neglects their activities in the study area.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Rapid degradation of natural resources globally, nationally and locally has continued to be a subject of concern and uncertainty among scholars. For instance, the rate of forest destruction has accelerated, significantly since the turn of the century. This is most critical in the tropics where over 2.5 million people depend on forest resources for a variety of services (Park, 2002; Sharma, 2004; Tyani, 2007).
Cunningham and Cunningham (2004) report that an estimated 12.5 million Km of tropical forest lands were covered with closed canopy forest a century ago, and 9.2 million ha or 0.6 percent of the remaining forest is cleared each year. However, the rate of forest lost at the global level is not significantly different from the current trend in Nigeria and Cross River State. Nwoboshi(1987) reported that forest clearance in Nigeria is put at an average of 400,000 ha per annum, while afforestation has only 32, 000 ha annually.
The cumulative effect of these is that the country has lost 50 million of forest in less than 100 years. Ajake (2008) observed that in Cross River State, between 2000 and 2005, about 20,000 ha of reserved areas were converted to agricultural plantation. Natural resources conservation may be facilitated by the application of the existing knowledge of rural communities on the sustainable use and management of forest, wildlife and water resources.
This knowledge can be supplemented by research initiative to fill crucial gaps in understanding the system linkages.
In recent decades, it has been recognized that conservation regimes have failed to manage resources in a sustainable way because of their rigidity and have deprived local communities of the motivation to use and manage resources in a sustainable way. This may be attributed to the non-recognition and participation of indigenous communities whose livelihood depends on such resources, and are the custodians of the natural landscapes.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study was to examine the level of community participation in the conservation of natural resources in Akamkpa Local Government Area, Southern Cross River State, Nigeria.
The following are the specific objectives of the study:
- To examine how the community participate in natural forest conservation in the study area.
- To examine how Community involvement influence wildlife conservation.
- To identify factors that influence community participation in natural resources conservation in the study area
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the ways in the community involves in natural forest resources conservation?
- How does Community involvement influence wildlife conservation?
- What are the factors that influence community participation in natural resources conservation in the study area?
HO1: The level of community participation does not significantly influence forest resources conservation.
HO2: Community involvement does not significantly influence wildlife conservation
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study sought to ascertain the enhancement of sustainable natural resource management, natural forest management in particular as one of the most promising options of combining community based natural resources management with rural development, community empowerment and poverty reduction objectives.
The study will provide suggestions to the local authorities, planners, policy makers, and institutions on how community participation should be improved and thus increase the contribution of natural forests to local livelihoods, poverty reduction, and the national economy.
The study focused on community participation in natural resources with respect to access to information, involvement in the practice and the factors influencing the community and the lower local authorities in enhancing community based natural resources management. The study was limited to Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria.
1.8 Study Limitations
This study encountered some limitations; some respondents hesitated to respond to the interviews as their activities are a threat to the sustainability of natural forests; for examples charcoal makers due to the fear of legal measures against them. This made the researcher spare more time to be friend with them as a customer in order to collect data from this group.
Some respondents asked for money in order to participate in the study, the researcher had to explain that the study is meant for academic purposes therefore he asked for their cooperation in order to accomplish the purposes.
Time constraints is another limitations, the researcher study leave elapsed before the completion of the work this necessitated a seek for extension of submission of dissertation by the researcher which was granted upon payment of extension fees to facilitate the completion of the study report.
1.9 Organization of the study
The study is structured in five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Community participation and involvement in the management and conservation of natural resources are vital instruments in environmental resources management. The rate at which forest and wildlife resources are gradually going into extinction calls for a more proactive measures to be taken to curb this ugly trend of resources destruction. The involvement of community members in the conservation of resources becomes the best alternative.
Based on the findings the following recommendations is inherent in this study:
- Community members should be involved in planning and conservation of natural resources.
- Empowerment programmes to provide alternative means of livelihood to be made available for the local people to reduce over dependence on environmental resources.
- Government should create incentives to boost resource conservation and management.
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