Evaluation Of The Impact Of Deforestation On The Environment
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. 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, 2010). 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.
Deforestation is the conversion of forest to an alternative permanent non-forested land use such as agriculture, grazing or urban development. Deforestation is primarily a concern for the developing countries of the tropics as it is shrinking areas of the tropical forests causing loss of biodiversity and enhancing the greenhouse effect (Angelsen et al., 2011). 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).
Over the years, sustainable management of forest resources has been of primary concern due to its potential impact on biological diversity and importance in maintaining global ecological functions. In spite of its importance, the natural tropical high forest has continued to diminish rapidly in the African continent, thus dwindling sustainable forest management. Nigeria could face the possibility of timber and fuel wood scarcity towards the end of the century. It has been predicted that within the next fifty years, unless adequate measures are taken, most humid tropical forestland area in Africa could be transformed into unproductive land and the deterioration of the savannah into desert will be accelerated (Hunter et al, 2010).
The level of community nutrition is sometimes linked to fuel wood availability and cost, majority of the people residing in Ukwa local government area of Imo state use fuel wood as their main source of energy for cooking. In many areas, due to increasing population the existing wood resources are over exploited. With extensive deforestation, villagers in Ukwa local government area of Imo state are compelled to walk long distance to fetch fuel wood. This tends to have serious consequences for local agricultural production and productivity because; the rural communities also rely on this substituted resource for improving soil fertility. Apart from the deterioration in the quality of life associated with forest degradation, there are other more insidious effects that endanger the future of humans on this planet.
In Nigeria, environmental problems that are termed degradation collectively, such as desert encroachment, erosion, flooding and drought etc all have a strong link with deforestation. In some parts of South-Eastern states for instance, escalated soil erosion, flooding, increase in aridity, all of which have strong relationship with deforestation, have affected a significant proportion of the state.
According to (; Chowdhury 2013) academia, scholars and researchers are of the opinion that deforestation risk reduction is a systematic approach of identifying, addressing, and reducing the risks of disaster to a community. Generally, deforestation is caused by a variety of factors. However, (Ajibade, 2012) viewed deforestation as clearing of any area of its natural vegetation cover which is normally lead to decrease in plants population resulting in loss of plant biodiversity Nonetheless, excessive deforestation over a long period has been the cause of many drought like features. Deforestation presents multiple environmental problems in our society today.In view of the background this study intends evaluate the impact of deforestation on the environment
Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, forests and tree products are rapidly being degraded, logged and cleared for agriculture and other developmental projects. Estimates for total tropical Africa put the total loss in the forest cover between 1990 to 1995 to be about 18 million hectares and 7% annual loss (FAO, 1997). Eboh et al (2006) stated that up to 50% of forest/woodland may have been lost in the last 4 to 5 decades, judging from both FAO and land use and vegetation (LUV) data over the last 3 decades. Meanwhile, FAO (2005) reported that
Nigeria, with total land area of 92,377,000 hectares, has annual change in total forest cover of – 3.12% between 2000 and 2005 whereas her primary forest cover annual change within the same period 2000 and 2005 stood at -11.14%. Also, Eboh (1995) observed that about 5% of the forests in Nigeria are lost yearly through the industrial, commercial and other urban-related activities. Another source put the average annual deforestation at 40,000 hectares between 1981 and 1985, while the annual reforestation in the same period was 26,000 hectares (World Resources Institute, 1992).
Deforestation in Enugu State is really an ongoing phenomenon. In the recent years, so much have been said about the impacts of deforestation in Enugu State, as reported by Eboh et al. (2005). This is becoming more pronounced with increasing population of the state which according to NPC (2006) stood at 3,257,298. The effects of such depletion have led to a decline in forest cover, forest degradation, impoverishment of the soil and general deterioration in environmental conditions. For example, deforestation has often led to frequent occurrence of erosion, flooding and siltation of water bodies in some part of the study area.
One critical aspect of the knowledge gap is the shortage of reliable economic values of deforestation in Nigeria especially in Enugu State. Because of this shortage, policymakers often do not have credible evidence bases to promote sound forest management. While literature is replete with information about the consequences of deforestation, past studies did not produce quantitative estimates about the economic losses from deforestation.
Generally, the socioeconomic consequences of forest exploitation and consumption are overlooked. In Sub-Saharan Africa which includes Nigeria, many households cooking in the home depend on fuelwood, which is responsible for more than 75% of all energy consumed in the country annually as reported by Ardayfio-Schandorf (1993). Most small-scale industries and food-processing enterprises that women undertake depend in large part on fuelwood. This dependence on fuelwood has contributed to the growing exploitation of the country’s forest.
The economic implications of deforestation in the study area include scarcity of fuelwood for cooking and heating especially among the rural populace. This accelerating nature of deforestation is also threatening the sustained resources base of the forest raw materials. Another
economic implication is the decline in forest-dependent industries which according to Nzeh and Eboh (2007) involves forest product gathering, processing and marketing.
Furtherance to the above observed implications, Woodall (1992) reported that in many cases political decision-makers in developing countries like Nigeria intentionally permit deforestation to continue because it acts as a social and economic safety value. By giving people free access to forested lands, the pressure is taken off politicians to resolve the more politically sensitive problems that face developing countries, such as land reform, rural development, power-sharing, and so on.
Available data shows that forest area in Enugu State declined from 177,695.7 hectares in the year 1991 to 156,887.7 hectares in the year 1997 and finally to 135,396.4 hectares in the year 2003 as reported by Eboh et al 2005. While, it is widely acknowledged that this forest decline has far- reaching social and economic consequence, there is little analytical insight into the nature, pathways and causation of these consequences. This gap in empirical evidence of the consequence of forest decline is hampering policy responses by government and forest stakeholders. This study therefore seeks to ameliorate this knowledge gap by inquiring into the nature, causes and patterns of deforestation in Enugu State.
To find out the economic implications of these consequences of deforestation, there is need to carry out this study. This will enable forestry policy makers, other stakeholders and even farmers in the study area to be better informed about the implication of deforestation and seek innovative means and ways to combat deforestation.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to conduct an Evaluation Of The Impact Of Deforestation On The Environment
The specific objectives are to:
- examine the nature and extent of deforestation;
- identify and analyze the factors that influence the decision to deforest;
- determine and analyze the resource-use patterns and processes associated with cleared forest land;
- identify, estimate and analyze financial and economic losses (if any) from deforestation;
- evaluate the effect of socioeconomic factors on deforestation; and
- derive lessons for sustainable management and use of
JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The forest area of Enugu State which stands out clearly as a major source of the state’s forest resources is currently facing problems in terms of accelerating degradation and depletion of its forest cover, according to Eboh et al. (2006). In the views of Eboh et al (2005) the forest resources of Enugu State are under pressures from urbanization, infrastructure development, residential construction, population growth and expansion of agricultural crop cultivation. Evidence of these pressures is the growing degradation of both community and state forest. According to Eboh et al (2006), about 25% of forest cover in the study area was lost from 1991- 2003 with the remaining forest now standing at about 16-17% of total land area. Forest loss is threatening rural household incomes and consumption of non-wood forest products (NWFPs). Deforestation threatens the energy supplies to 83% of households in Enugu State who depend on fuelwood (FOS-NLSS, 2005). Being fully aware of forest importance for present and future generations in both urban and rural communities of the state under study, there is therefore the need to carry out adequate assessment of this dwindling natural resource in other to save the forest and minimize the resulting environmental degradation that occur due to forest deforestation.
Meanwhile, whereas forests are owned by the state, it has been suggested according to FAO (1983) that one way to increase public expenditure is to increase forest charges and revenue collection. But a number of studies in the views of (FAO 1983; Rapetto and Gillis, 1988; Grut, et al 1991) have shown that forest revenue collected in many countries is low especially in developing countries. Low forest revenue not only has a negative impact on total government revenue and expenditure, but also sends incorrect price signals to the market about the value of forests and its products. Such messages are damaging to sustainable forest management in that low prices can result in over-harvesting and undervaluing of the resource, both of which contribute to deforestation activities of the forest.
The economic and environmental problems facing the developing world are staggering in their magnitude and their complexity. They are fueled by the vicious cycle of population growth and persistent poverty. Most countries face serious problems in urban environment: overcrowding, unemployment, growing crime, lack of portable water, inadequate sewage disposal, increasing air pollution and the inappropriate disposal of toxic wastes. In rural areas, the deterioration of natural resources not only destroys the environment, but also undermines the very foundation on which economic growth and long term prosperity depend. The catastrophic impact is seen in accelerating soil erosion which results in permanent loss in agricultural productivity, in advancing desertification accompanied by drought and famine, in declining coastal and inland fisheries with the associated threats to food security, in the misuse of agrochemicals that poison both people and the environment, in the alarming sedimentation of fragile coral reefs; and in the destruction of biodiversity-rich wetlands. But suffice it to say that none of these natural resource problems is more threatening, none more in need of immediate action, than the deforestation of the forests.
Furthermore, an important element in the present and future programme for assessing the economic valuation of deforestation of forest resources is the availability of some modern models to determine the resources stock, rate of use as well as the impact of the use on the environment. At present, there is no up-to-date information on economic analysis of deforestation estimates for the state forest area in Enugu state. Currently, Enugu State has no operational forest policy but only that of early 1980’s. This lack of policy has created serious problem like poor government management of protected forestland and even community forest management of unprotected forestland. Further resultant effects of lack of this policy include no proper planning of forestry activities in the state. This gap is causing sustainable management problem of forest in the state. In other to solve this policy gap, research is needed to produce empirical knowledge that will guide policy makers. This study is also justified since information on economic analysis of deforestation estimate are not available in the study area, but this can be derived from this study. Truly, researches have been carried out on the forestry situation in the state, as reported by Ujah and Eboh (2003) but none of them focused on economic analysis of the forest losses especially as it relates to non-reserve forest. Meanwhile, the study will be useful for
the management of the state forest resources and for the provision of necessary guidelines for its conservation.
Apart from the fact that results of this study will permit detection of nature, forms of forest deforestation and identification of those factors responsible, they can also act as guidance for taking decision on future land-use and afforestation projects in the study area.
- LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
Numerous restrictions were faced during this study. Some of them are listed below:-
- Accessibility to some of the rural places was not easy due to poor terrain and
Some of the places were very remote.
- Difficulty in convincing the respondents that this research work is purely for academic work and not for political class or government
- There was problem of data collection from the respondents because most of the respondents depend on memory recall to give the data for this
- Difficulty in obtaining quality data from both government agencies and rural household respondents.
- Despite the above named challenges, this study was fully carried out because of the experiences of the researcher and the data collected was enough to complete the