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.
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).
In spite of the multi-various usefulness of the forest resources, rapid population growth and changes in land uses have put the forest resources under pressure. For instance, Poore 1989 opined that majority of logging operations in tropical countries are considered unsuitable and damaging. The widespred failure of forest governamnce – characterized by illegal logging, associated illegal trade, and corruption-directly undermines sustainable economic growth, equitable development, and environmental conservation. It puts at risk poor and forest-dependent populations, which rely on timber and non-timber forest products; undermines responsible forest enterprises by distorting timber and reducing profitability; and results in a loss of govenrment revenue that could be invested in sustainable forest management or general economic development (World Bank, 2006). The major determinants of deforestation are the available natural resources in an area, how the resources are being used, traditional beliefs and myths, conflicts in the use of resources, population pressure, vis-a-vis the problem of pollution (soils, air or water). According to Meyer and Turner (2009), societies have profoundly altered their environments in the pursuit of wealth and power have been punished by environmental catastrophes (natural and man-induced). They opined further that world forest area has been reduced by some 20 percent and a large area of land converted from its original vegetation cover to cropping. The major cause of deforestation are increasing demand for housing and infrastructural facilities, crop and timber export, poor agricultural practices cutting of fuel wood for urban areas, head loading (cutting of fuel wood for sale), forest fires, logging, and overharvesting. Other causes are overgrazing, road construction, dam construction, as well as careless exploitation of forest resources. A large empirical literature exists on the consequences of deforestation (see Rosenzweig and Parry, 1994; Western, 1999; Johnston, 1989; Bruijnzeel, 2004; and Brookfield, 1992). Deforestation is responsible for damage to habitate, biodiversity loss and aridity, extinction of rare species of plants and animals, climate change, environmental destruction and the subsequent damage to the sensitive living balance of the ecosystem. Also, empirical studies have confirmed that if we cannot look after the forest they will soon disapper (see Brockington, 2007; Hyde and Sedjo, 1992; Waston et al, 1998; Colin, 2001 and Khare et al, 2000). The threat to timber resources is being combated in most countries by vigorous afforestation. In addition, many have adopted stringent forestry laws, as in Norway and Sweden, to prevent waste, and elsewhere, experiments are taking place to find alternative materials for making paper (Whynne-Hammond, 1979).
Other strategies of combating deforestation are the use of alternative sources of energy other than fuel and charcoal, sustainable agricultural practices rather than slash and burn method of farming, land management, avoidance of indiscriminate bush burning, as well as promulgation and enforcement of environmental laws and forest policies. Likewise, mitigating deforestation entails forest conservation, protection of endangered species, as well as the promotion of ecotourism. These are the measures of achieving sustainable development.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The indiscriminate felling of trees in our forest and the attitude of the people in Oredo Local Government Area, Edo State towards our forest has necessitated a massive scale and the people seem to be unaware of its consequences. This study therefore is geared towards finding solutions to some of the problems of deforestation. This study intends to find out the following problems;
1. Do deforestation lead to flooding
2. What are the causes of deforestation in Oredo Local Government Area, Edo State?
3. Is deforestation cause by lack of proper management of forest?
4. What are the measures being made to control deforestation?
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The aims of the study are;
1. To identify the causes of deforestation in Oredo Local Government Area.
2. To identify the problems created by deforestation in Ovia North East Local Government Area.
3. To assess the attitude of people of Ovia North East Local Government Area towards the existing forest.
4. To assess the efforts made by the government to reduce the problems of deforestation.
1. Does deforestation cause flooding?
2. Does expansion of farmland lead to deforestation?
3. Does overgrazing lead to deforestation?
1. Does urbanization/industrialization lead to deforestation?
2. Does Overpopulation and poverty lead to deforestation?
6. Does deforestation lead to climate change?
1. Does deforestation lead to decreased biodiversity, habitat loss and conflicts?
2. Does deforestation have any social consequences on the people?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The fact that our forest is one of the beauties of nature and an effect means of controlling erosion, man has in either consciously or unconsciously and indiscriminately too. If no efforts are made to guard this, the younger generation may find it very difficult to know what a natural forest look like. They may also be denied of good forest produce for their economic needs and uses. Hence the effort being made by the government in preserving and consolidating the forest in form forest resources is highly impressive.
The study is of importance in that it will enlighten the leaders and the public of our obligation of the forest. To point out the importance of forest to guide against erosion. It will also aid government and forestry officials on how to protect our forest.
The study is of immense importance of the people of Oredo Local Government Area in the sense that to clearly preserve the forest and also on how to plant trees to check erosion.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY:
The study is set out to determine the causes and effect of deforestation in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State. Therefore, the study is restricted to both men and women in the Local Government Area of Study. Respondents include students, teachers, civil servants, youths, and drivers.
DEFINITION OF TERMS