Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use. Deforestation occurs for many reasons: trees are cut down to be used or sold as fuel (sometimes in the form of charcoal) or timber, while cleared land is used as pasture for livestock, plantations of commodities and settlements. The removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat, biodiversity loss and aridity. It has adverse impacts on biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation; commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation; logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel wood removals make up 5% of deforestation.
Other causes of contemporary deforestation may include corruption of government institutions, the inequitable distribution of wealth and power, population growth and overpopulation, and urbanization. Globalization is often viewed as another root cause of deforestation, though there are cases in which the impacts of globalization (new ï¬‚ows of labor, capital, commodities, and ideas) have promoted localized forest recovery.
Deforestation is a contributor to global warming, and is often cited as one of the major causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Tropical deforestation is responsible for approximately 20% of world greenhouse gas emissions. In deforested areas, the land heats up faster and reaches a higher temperature, leading to localized upward motions that enhance the formation of clouds and ultimately produce more rainfall.
The water cycle is also affected by deforestation. Trees extract groundwater through their roots and release it into the atmosphere. When part of a forest is removed, the trees no longer transpire this water, resulting in a much drier climate. Deforestation reduces the content of water in the soil and groundwater as well as atmospheric moisture. The dry soil leads to lower water intake for the trees to extract. Deforestation reduces soil cohesion, so that erosion, flooding and landslides ensue.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
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., 1994). 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 as observed in the case of Odighi forest in Odighi Local government area of Edo State and the rate of tropical rain forest destruction is escalating worldwide, despiteincreased 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 et al, 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 et al, 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 etal., 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 tohave 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).
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There is enoughevidence that the whole world is facing an environmental crisis on account of heavy deforestation. For several years, there has been remorseless of destruction which must be put under control to avoid some bad consequences associated with deforestation. 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, this research work will focus on the consequences of deforestation on the rural house hold income especially as observed in Odighi in Edo State.
AIM AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this study is to determine the causes and consequences of deforestation in Odighi and the following objectives are stated for this research study:
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this research are:
This research work will help to improve the existing literatures on deforestation thereby contributing to the body of knowledge.