In spite of their immeasurable benefits to life sustenance, the sustainable management of forest and forest resources in Nigeria is fraught with innumerable challenges such as the conflicting roles of the various stakeholders involved in forest management. Forests have since ancient times played an important role in the lives of people and the environment in general. That is, forests provided and continue to provide numerous benefits to humanity. This has repercussions for the ecosystem on the people especially the poor and the people who depend on the forest. It is in this vein that this study was undertaken to assess the effects of deforestation on the livelihood patterns of the forest fringe communities (farmers) in the Boki LGA. The study adopted the case study research design in undertaking this systematic enquiry. This was adopted to help acquire knowledge on the current situation with regards to the phenomenon under consideration. Both primary and secondary data were collected and used for the study. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques to collect the necessary data and was analyzed in great depth to determine their implications for changing forest cover and livelihood patterns in the study area. The respondents for the study comprised Farmers, Government Meteorological Department, Forestry Commission and Agricultural Development Units. The study showed that, the farmers in the study area are largely engaged in the cultivation of food crops which are mainly subsistence in nature. It was realized that the farmers practice mixed cropping with slash and burn as the predominant land preparation method. The study showed that deforestation has affected crop production in the areas of delayed commencement of planting seasons, pest and diseases infestation, level and quality of crop yields and reduction in the income levels of farmers. The study recommended among other things, the continuous education and sensitization of farmers, strengthening of the public institution stakeholders and promotion of active research that will ensure a decline in deforestation.

1.1 Introduction
Tropical rainforests are the world’s most important repository of biological diversity, and they are regarded as “the lungs of the planet” (Philip Stott, 1999). Tropical rainforest are a natural reservoir of genetic diversity which offers a rich source of medicinal plants, high-yield foods and a myriad of other useful products (Panayotou and Ashton, 1992). They are an important habitat for migratory animals and sustain as much as 50 percent of the species on earth, as well as a number of diverse and unique indigenous cultures. They also play an elemental role in regulating global weather in addition to maintaining regular rainfall, while buffering against floods, droughts, and erosion (Taylor, 2005). They store vast quantities of carbon while producing a significant amount of the world‘s oxygen. The important ecological functions of tropical rainforest provide numerous goods and services that contribute significantly to human well-being at local, national, and global levels (Amisah et al., 2009).

Undoubtedly, forests play critical roles in the social and economic development of humankind. In Nigeria, forests provide goods such as timber and other non-timber products (e.g. bamboo, chew stick, game) which help most communities to meet the requirements for rural economy (Amisah et al., 2009). Blay et al. (2008), indicated that the forest supports the livelihood of about 20 million inhabitants particularly in rural communities. Though, the forests are essential due to the wide variety of goods and services they provide, they are under threat from especially human-induced disturbances (Appiah et al., 2009; Gupta et al., 2005; Kozlowski, 2000).

The 2010 Global Forests Resources Assessment showed that there was a 2 percent (135, 000 ha) loss of forest annually from 1990-2000 in Nigeria (FAO, 2010). Moreover, most of the country’s forest resources are considered to be degraded (Marfo, 2010). The causes of the continuous forest loss are multi-dimensional and they include both internal and external factors. The internal factors include: unsustainable agriculture, conversion to agriculture, wanton logging, wildfires, firewood collection and charcoal production, mining, population pressure, poorly defined land and resource tenure. On the other hand, the external factors include: market failures, international trade, and the imposition of economic programs such as the Structural Adjustment Program (Appiah et al., 2009; Benhin and Barbier, 2004).

The concerns about deforestation have mainly focused on the effects on atmospheric gases, climate change and particularly biological diversity (Amisah et al., 2009; Gupta et al., 2005; Benhin and Barbier, 2004). As a result of the high spate of deforestation, a lot of indigenous tree species like, Milicia excelsa and Milicia regia, the mahoganies (Khaya and Entandrophragma species), Pericopsis elata, Nauclea diderrichii, and Triplochitonscleroxylon which generate substantial revenues for Nigeria’s economy have drastically reduced over the past decades (Wong, 1989 in Benhin and Barbier, 2004).

1.2 Problem Statement
Forest fragmentation and deforestation remain as central problems in Nigeria, especially the high forest zone of Nigeria due, primarily, to both legal and illegal timber exploitation and arable crop farming (Amisah et al., 2009). The consequence has been a dramatic change in climate and evolution of strategies to sustain rural livelihoods. In most African countries the spate of deforestation has increased over the past four decades, with significant effects on rainfall, temperature, water resources, wildfire frequency, agriculture and livelihoods (Amisah et al., 2009).

In less developed countries, particularly those in Africa, livelihood insecurity remains a major problem (Shepherd et al., 1999 in Tropenbos International, 2005). Forest dependent communities in these countries, rely heavily on their farmlands. Many forest dependent people employ a diversity of means to help meet basic needs: food and cash crop production, forest and tree product gathering and income-earning enterprises both on and off the farm. Often, the poorer the household, the more diverse the sources of their livelihood, as the needs for the year must be made up from various off-farm as well as on-farm natural resources, and often from migrant labouring as well (Shepherd et al., 1999 in Tropenbos International, 2005).

At the beginning of the 21st Century, a third of Nigeria’s land area of 238,533 km2 was covered by high forest whilst the remaining was savannah woodland. Currently, only about 10 percent of this area remains as forested land. Logging, bush fires, agricultural practices, excessive exploitation of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) have been implicated (Amisah et al., 2009). Deforestation rates remain high and will probably increase in the coming years as the population grows and demand for new settlements, wood for construction, fuelwood, charcoal and food increases as a consequence (Amisah et al., 2009).

This frightening spate of forest degradation potentially poses enormous adverse effects on forest reserves. These forest communities exert excessive pressure on forest reserves as many of those living in such communities have their livelihoods predicated on the availability, access and utilization of forest products (Appiah, 2009). The concomitant repercussions associated with this forest degradation include exposing such degraded forest communities as well as their farmlands to high risk of erosions and floods. Additionally, forest degradation risks the quality of life in forest communities and beyond, militates against the stability of climate and local weather, threaten the existence of other species and undermine the valuable services provided by biological diversity. Ultimately, these effects affect the livelihoods in such forest fringe communities.

An important location in Nigeria where forest communities have suffered considerable setbacks in their livelihoods due to changing forest cover (deforestation) is the Goaso forest catchment area. The forest loss has occurred as a result of excessive timber exploitation, bad farming practices and other land use activities. Forest communities in the area are characterized by high poverty levels and rely on rain-fed agriculture with little or no access to modern agricultural technology (Blay et al., 2008).

The Cross River state is one of the important agricultural regions of Nigeria, especially the Goaso area, and is often regarded as the breadbasket of the country (; accessed 2007). With about six forest districts, the region has a lot of fertile lands and actually serves as the production site for most of the food crops and cash crops in Nigeria. As forest reserves make significant contributions to the development of Nigeria, there is the need to strongly create awareness and understanding of the extent and nature of the endowed forest resource as well as the method of exploitation. The implication of this is the importance and necessity for adequate care of the forest through appropriate planning and management as to the utilization of the forest resources. The reasons being that, these forest resources are in a web within a system and any disturbance of one element will dislodge the equilibrium. Besides the imbalances created in the forests’ ecosystem, the depletion of the forest cover poses significant repercussions on the livelihood of people, particularly those in such forest fringe communities who depend heavily on the forest and its resources. It is in this vein that this study is being conducted to assess the effect of deforestation on livelihood patterns on forest communities in the Cross River state.

1.3 Research Questions
Based on the afore-stated problem, the study provided answers to the following questions:

1. What is the extent of deforestation in the Boki LGA over the last ten years?

2. What are the causes of deforestation in the Boki LGA?

3. What are the sources of livelihood for forest communities in the Boki LGA?

4. How has the deforestation in the area affected the livelihood patterns in the study area?

5. How is the people in the study area adapting to the deforestation in the study area?

1.4 Research Objectives
The overarching purpose of this research is to assess the effects of deforestation on the ecosystem development in the Cross River state. In line with that, specific objectives have been set to help realize this ultimate purpose. The specific objectives of the study are to:

1. Assess the extent of deforestation in the Boki LGA.

2. Identify the causes of deforestation in the Boki LGA.

3. Identify the sources of livelihood for forest communities in the Boki LGA

4. Examine how deforestation has affected the livelihood patterns in the study area.

5. Assess how the people have been adapting to the effects of deforestation in the study area.

1.5 Scope of the Research
The scope of the research shows the coverage of study in terms of the context which also defines or influence the theoretical framework of the study and the second aspect is the geographic scope.

1.5.1 Contextual Scope
The contextual scope revolved around the effects of deforestation on the ecosystem development, the extent to which deforestation has affected livelihood patterns and the means of adaptation in forest fringe communities.

1.5.2 Geographical Scope
Geographically, the study looks at the Boki LGA.

1.6 Significance of study
Research is advanced in trying to understand the alternative livelihoods of forest communities. This work will go a long way to add to knowledge about the social and economic impacts of forest on the surrounding communities in Nigeria. The study will not only achieve its purpose but will also open up other avenues for further research to be done to add to the body of literature that exist on forestry and livelihoods as well as the impacts of forests have on communities that surrounds these areas in question.

The research is worth undertaking considering the frightening spate at which the country is losing it forest cover. It is obvious that the wave of deforestation is now knocking at the doors of existing forest and exerting maximum pressure on the regulatory processes of forest. The study will provide some useful reasons why we should preserve our forests beside sustainability reasons.

The study relied on empirical data that was gathered from the field in the study region. This data will add to existing data base by way of updating what already exist. This will also present a fresh picture about the level of economic and social development in some communities in Cross River state. The data base can serve another good purpose for investors to direct some investments into the region to ensure the development of the study region.

The research brought to fore the challenges and prospects that forestry in Cross River state face and this would inform policy decisions to get the best out of the forests we have in Nigeria. These findings from the study may possibly assist policy makers in developing pertinent policies to protect the forests in Nigeria and also, provide better alternatives for the people to take advantage of the forest for their own development.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 93 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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