Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stands of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Examples of deforestation include the 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 the 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 ﬂows of labour, 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 localised 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 a lower water intake for the trees to extract. Deforestation reduces soil cohesion so that erosion, flooding and landslides ensue.
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 in 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 rainforest 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 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 the 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 forests although they do classify rubber plantations as forests.
Forest degradation occurs when the ecosystem functions of the forest are degraded but where the area remains forested rather than 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 for 53 per cent of the total forest area of the globe. Another 64 countries having a combined population of two billion 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 India and China due to their large-scale afforestation programme in the last decade registered a net gain in the forest area. Conversely, South America, Africa and Oceania had registered a net annual loss of forest area (Anon., 2010).
This study was intended to evaluate the consequences of deforestation on rural household income. This study was guided by the following objectives; to find out the causes of deforestation in Odighi in Edo state, to examine the consequences of rural household income, and to determine the strategies for reducing deforestation.
The study employed a descriptive and explanatory design; questionnaires in addition to library research were applied in order to collect data. Primary and secondary data sources were used and data was analyzed using simple percentages which were presented in frequency tables and percentages. The respondents under the study were 50 respondents including farmers, hunters and staff of the agricultural and forestry department in Odighi Edo state, Abuja branch. The study majorly focuses on the consequences of deforestation on rural household income.
The study findings revealed that deforestation negatively affects rural household income in Odighi Edo state; based on the findings from the study, efforts should be made by the Nigerian government and stakeholders in promoting tree planting and preservation.
EDITOR SOURCE: Consequences Of Deforestation On Rural Household Income