THE PROBLEMS OF DEFORESTATION

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ABSTRACT

This research was carried out in order to assess the causes and effects of deforestation in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State. the researcher collected his information by distributing questionnaire to the people living in Ovia North East Local government Area in Edo State and to the Ministry of Agriculture Department of forestry in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State. The information gathered were analyzed and presented in percentages. From the analysis, the researcher was able to identify the following. That it is only the government that can arrest the problem of deforestation. Deforestation can also lead to animal extinction That people resort to illegal felling of trees because employment opportunities are lacking elsewhere. Based on these findings the researcher made recommendations among which are; The government should employ more field staff to combat illegal entry destruction of forest production. These field staff should be made to carry arms while on duty patrol, not only to safeguard themselves but also to instill some fear on timber thieves. The use of village elders in guiding against illegal deforestation should be encouraged.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The year 2011 is ‘The International Year of Forests’. This designation has generated momentum bringing greater attention to the forests worldwide. Forests cover almost a third of the earth’s land surface providing many environmental benefits including a major role in the hydrologic cycle, soil conservation, prevention of climate change and preservation of biodiversity (Sheram, 1993). Forest resources can provide long-term national economic benefits. For example, at least 145 countries of the world are currently involved in wood production (Anon., 1994a). Sufficient evidence is available that the whole world is facing an environmental crisis on account of heavy deforestation. For years remorseless destruction of forests has been going on and we have not been able to comprehend the dimension until recently. Nobody knows exactly how much of the world’s rainforests have already been destroyed and continue to be razed each year. Data is often imprecise and subject to differing interpretations. However, it is obvious that the area of tropical rainforest is diminishing and the rate of tropical rain forest destruction is escalating worldwide, despite

increased environmental activism and awareness.

Deforestation is the conversion of forest to an alternative permanent non-forested land use such as agriculture, grazing or urban development (van Kooten and Bulte, 2000). Deforestation is primarily a concern for the developing countries of the tropics (Myers, 1994) as it is shrinking areas of the tropical forests (Barraclough and Ghimire, 2000) causing loss of biodiversity and enhancing the greenhouse effect (Angelsen et al., 1999). FAO considers a plantation of trees established primarily for timber production to be forest and therefore does not classify natural forest conversion to plantation as deforestation (but still records it as a loss of natural forests). However, FAO does not consider tree plantations that provide non-timber products to be forest although they do classify rubber plantations as forest. Forest degradation occurs when the ecosystem functions of the forest are degraded but where the area remains forested rather cleared (Anon., 2010). Thirty per cent of the earth’s land area or about 3.9 billion hectares is covered by forests. It was estimated that the original forest cover was approximately six billion hectares (Bryant et al., 1997). The Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China were the most forest rich countries accounting to 53 per cent of the total forest area of the globe. Another 64 countries having a combined population of two billions was reported to have forest on less than ten per cent of their total land area and unfortunately ten of these countries have no forest at all. Among these countries 16 are such which had relatively substantial forest areas of more 1than one million hectares each and three of these countries namely Chad, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Mongolia each had more than ten million hectares of forest. The forest area remained fairly stable in North and Central America while it expanded in Europe during the past decade. Asian continent especially in India and China due to their large scale afforestation programme in the last decade registered a net gain in forest area. Conversely the South America, Africa and Oceania had registered the net annual loss of forest area (Anon., 2010; 2011a).

The forest is a good source of food, income, ecological resources, social and cultural features, as well as physical facilities like power and building materials. Other functions of the forest are prevention of erosion, as well as the provision of essential habitat for wildlife to survive. Hence, the necessity to conserve the forest and the biodiversity therein. In addition to conserving biological and cultural diversity, it is now widely recognised that many protected areas also have important social and economic functions. These include protecting watersheds, soil and coastlines, providing natural products for use on a sustainable basis, and supporting tourism and recreation (Lee et. al, 2003). Studies in China have also confirmed that medical herb production is a big business and that the suppliers have chosen to invest in forest protection and reforestation in order to guarantee future supplies (see Chen, 1983 and Hou, 1994 for greater details).

THE PROBLEMS OF DEFORESTATION