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Livelihood, Traditional Land use and Environmental Interaction in Nigeria

London Journal of Research in Science: Natural and Formal
Volume | Issue | Compilation
Authored by Pius Akindele Adeniyi , NA
Classification: 050299
Keywords: traditional land use, livelihood, environmental interaction, sustainable environmental solution.
Language: English

Traditional Land Use systems play a key role in environmental degradation. Cultural practices involving agriculture, fuel wood supply and health care delivery thrive under the law of capture. They lack sustainable production and exploitation process due to constraints posed by land and tree tenure, population increase and the importance of living biotic resources in the market economy. The solution for a stable environment under the multiple land use systems in natural ecosystems is not in sight. However, rural land use practices should emphasize among others public education and conservative principles. 

1.    Traditional Land Use systems play a key role in environmental degradation. Cultural practices involving agriculture, fuel wood supply and health care delivery thrive under the law of capture. They lack sustainable production and exploitation process due to constraints posed by land and tree tenure, population increase and the importance of living biotic resources in the market economy. The solution for a stable environment under the multiple land use systems in natural ecosystems is not in sight. However, rural land use practices should emphasize among others public education and conservative principles.

 

               

Livelihood, Traditional Land use and Environmental Interaction in Nigeria

Pius Akindele Adeniyi

____________________________________________

ABSTRACT 

Traditional Land Use systems play a key role in environmental degradation. Cultural practices involving agriculture, fuel wood supply and health care delivery thrive under the law of capture. They lack sustainable production and exploitation process due to constraints posed by land and tree tenure, population increase and the importance of living biotic resources in the market economy. The solution for a stable environment under the multiple land use systems in natural ecosystems is not in sight. However, rural land use practices should emphasize among others public education and conservative principles.

Keywords: traditional land use, livelihood, environmental interaction, sustainable environmental  solution.

Author: Federal Ministry of Environment Department of Forestry, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria.

e-mail: piusadeniyi@gmail.com

phone number +2348168046355

  1. INTRODUCTION

The current global trend in tropical forest conservation is to bridge gaps in information flow between rural resource users and decision makers. Because natural (biotic) resources are often utilized by governments to address issues arising from food security and foreign exchange earnings. Macro-economic policies have imposed negative impact on environmental conservation yet the rural communities who live by, own and utilize natural resources are also driven by poverty, thus, both the government and rural communities depend on the natural ecosystems for survival.(1,4,7,13,18,24,32)

Traditional land use system is influenced by life styles: the culture of a people in relation to the environment. Because traditional land use systems are shapened by the diversity of natural resources, increasing human population and loss of natural' forests have substantive impact on ecosystem stability. (2,10,15,17,21,27) Lack of information for long term planning has made national policies to ignore resource utilization at the local level. It is argued that for effective management of natural resources, adequate data are required on: (a) level of resource exploitation (flora, fauna and minerals); (b) response of rural communities to changes in life styles; and (c) specialization in use of resources. The study on which this paper is based examines the Impact of rural land use on the natural ecosystems. Specifically, it addresses the following questions: at what level do traditional land use systems degrade the environment? What are the causes of negative approach to environmental degradation in relation to agriculture, healthcare delivery and fuelwood exploitation? (3,6,11,30)

  1. TRADITIONAL LAND USE SYSTEMS 

In every sphere of life, there are rules and regulations which keep people together to maintain order and security to lives and property. The complexities of rules and regulations determine the level of cultural advancement and hence the life style patterns. The traditional land use system therefore, is a reflection of the lifestyles which are nevertheless influenced by changes in the social and economic well being of the people. The Cultural forms of agricultural production perpetrate subsistence needs of the people. The major practices are in vogue: food and livestock production. Food crops involve shifting cultivation and intensive semi-permanent cultivation in fadamas. The livestock production is nomadic. The two major practices apply fire to clear the natural vegetation particularly in the savanna areas in the production process. (5,9,19,31)

Fadama cultivation is a dry season farming system that thrives in wetlands both in the savanna and rainforest ecosystems. The products are mainly vegetables, early grain crop or in a stabilized stage, the fadamas are used to cultivate crops like sugarcane and other perennial food crops. Shifting cultivation is a system in which relatively short periods of continuous cultivation are followed by relatively long periods of fallow” (8,12,20,22) The system employs simple technology and operates under uncontiguous farm units and inadequate farm labour. land allocation for farming is dictated by the indigenous tenure system and clear felling system of natural vegetation.

Shifting cultivation thrives best under low population density that guarantees sufficient fallow periods; and undeveloped agricultural based industries (Ruthenberg, 1974). Unfortunately, these conditions are absent in the country at moment due to factors of high population density, presence of agro-based industries, high rate of deforestation tor tree crop production (cocoa, rubber, oil palm and forestry plantations) and unequal land tenure systems (23,25,26,28). Under the present conditions, shifting cultivation is still the main source of food supply in Nigeria accounting for about 95% of total food production and employing about 80% of the rural labour.

Livestock production is a major land use practice in the savanna ecosystems. The practice is by small holder and is free-ranged. Rearing of livestock is by nomadic herdsmen and it involves a southwards and a northwards movement of cattle in the dry and raining seasons respectively. The herdsmen face some problems: (a) extensive grazing routes, (b) uncontrolled number of cattle per unit area of land; (c) lack of range conservation practices and (d) rearing of animals beyond traditional land rights of herdsmen. Because of these problems, the sub-sector had experienced mounting deficits which ranged from 122,810 tonnes in beef supply in 1982. to 183,230 tonnes in 1985 (1,3,5,28,29,). Over 75% of the Nigerian population depends on traditional health care delivery.

The traditional health care relies heavily on wild biotic resources. Virtually all plant parts from leaf buds to mature leaves, exudates, barks, roots, flowers, nuts, fruits, wood through plant materials in the litter form are used for health care (3,7,15,20,26). However, the traditional health care is administered in three formal levels. These are: (a) preventive; this involves epidemic, rainfall, flood and others; (b) curatives: cure of ailments, diseases of infertility, body pains, warding off bad spirits, snake bites, (c) despoil; to instill sanity into the society such as unfaithfulness in married people (magun), oppression of the poor and deprivation of social rights. (Traditional titles etc). Fuelwood is the main source of domestic energy supply accounting for 90% of total requirements in rural areas. Fuelwood had in the past been gathered by women. Because of the scarcity of fuelwood particularly in the savanna zones of Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Borno, Adamawa and others, the supply of the commodity has been commercialized. At present, fuelwood production is not limited to dead wood: Living trees are cut down and stacked for commercial purposes. This occupation has endangered the diversity of indigenous tree species beyond regeneration levels.

Many wooded savanna ecosystems have degenerated into grass land areas because of excessive felling of trees for fuelwood. (2,8,18,23, 29)

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF TRADITIONAL LAND USE SYSTEMS

3.1 Fire on the Environment 

The application of fire on the natural ecosystem serves several purposes. It is used to clear the vegetation for farming, hunting and to stimulate the growth of swards of grass for grazing. The cultural use of fire is indiscriminate, regular and Intensive. The Impact of fire on the ecosystem vary over time and space. The severity of fire depends on the amount of vegetative matter, the dryness of vegetation and the soil and the frequency of fire on a unit area of land. In Nigeria, the use of fire is detrimental to the stability of the natural forests. In the semi-arid areas, frequent fire leads to a breakdown of biomass formation, The impact of Indiscriminate use of fire is a deterioration of the ecological process (4,6,14,22, 25) as given in Table 1.

3.2 Livestock Production

Free ranged livestock depletes the environment in several ways. These include: (a) massive destruction of the environment by Introduced exotic species which did not evolve with the natural environment. In particular, exotic goats, worse than the native ones, are pernicious, create ruinous effect on degraded vegetation and accelerate the destruction of the plant cover (4,16,21,28); (b) Localized grazing lead to trampling of the soils in grazing routes, increased soil compaction, exposed soils and cause soil erosion; (c) overgrazing of the vegetation beyond  carrying capacities due to lack of control of animals over a unit area of land. This decreases biomass for both the livestock and native wild animal species; (d) lopping of tree branches by herdsmen to provide fodder reduce total biomass production and energy capture by trees through photosynthesis; (e) loss of native species which provide fodder in evergreen tree species in the semi-arid areas (Balanitesaegyptiaca and Maerua Crassifolia) due to overharvesting and misuse; and (f) use of farm residues by livestock in the dry season deprives the environment from effective circulation of nutrients from vegetative matter and hereby marginalize the soil for vegetative regeneration.

3.3 Food Crop Production 

Traditional food crops production degrades the environment through devegetation of actual environment. Over 75% of the total natural vegetation in the country was lost before 1985 due largely to agricultural production (9,11,18,24,28). The causes of agricultural land depletion are: (a) unequal land tenure systems. This creates migrant tenant farmers who mine the soils beyond conservation levels; (b) lack of a third party control on land use under the individual land ownership; (c) economic incentives derived from producing crops for the market (root crops and grains); and (d) a land extensive system of land cultivation under the traditional food crop production. Massive devegetation of the natural ecosystems is harmful to the stability of the environment. For example, it leads to reduction in species diversity and extinction of indigenous species of plants. Habitat loss for wild animals makes them vulnerable to disease organisms and hunting. As in some parts of Borno State, habitat destruction for elephants in their traditional routes for over centuries make them turn up in human settlements and get killed in the process. Again, watershed destruction decrease water levels in streams and thereby endanger the aquatic life.(4,8,11,17,22,28)

3.4 Traditional Health Care 

The destructive effects of traditional health care on the environment result from established trade in the sales of herbs and wild animal parts in urban areas throughout the country. The exploitation process of biotic resources is in three tiers.

First, are exploiters of herbs and wild animals from natural forests. Second are middle men who procure these products from exploiters from rural areas. Third are the traders of these products in urban centres.

Aside from these are established herbal homes with prepared drugs for patients. Some of these categories establish herbal gardens to sustain their business. Nevertheless, most raw materials are derived from the natural forests in haphazard ways perhaps because of dominant user rights over trees and land under the tenure systems. Because all parts of wild plants are utilized for traditional medicine most tree species are destroyed by de- barking, up-'rooting removal of leaves or by felling. The impact is massive as many of the species involved hardly coppice or regenerate after harvest. (7,15,24,31)

3.5 Fuelwood Supply 

The causal factors for high dependence on fuelwood as domestic energy supply are cultural. Some of these are: (a) poverty among rural and urban dwellers who cannot afford alternative domestic energy sources: kerosene, electricity and liquefied petroleum gas; (b) traditional attachment to firewood usage creating preference for food cooked from wood to other means; (c) social attitudes of the people in ceremonies and festivals promoting open-air preparation for participants; and (d) traditional taboos restricting some rulers and traditional title holder to eat food prepared only with firewood. Because firewood supports about 90% and 50% of rural and urban settlers in domestic energy supply and because 95% of the fuel wood needs is derived from the natural forests, it poses a threat to the stability of the ecosystem. In a recent survey, (4,8,11,20,21, 30,) showed that in commercial fuelwood logging sites, 81 % and 93% of indigenous trees of 25cm and above at diameter breast height were respectively felled per hectare in the savanna and rainforest ecosystems. In the same study, 52% of the felled trees died and only 10% coppiced in the savanna while in the rainforest 38% of the felled trees died and 16% coppiced. These data therefore, depict that the natural forests in the commercial logging zones are in the state of instability as the diversity index fell from 14.9 to 11.8 in the savanna and from 17.8 to 7.2 in the rainforest respectively before and after felling of timber for fuelwood.

Table 1: Effects of Prescribed Burning on Ecological Process

Ecological Process

Effect

Natural Succession

  • Curtailment of natural succession and erosion evolution
  • Creation of bare area which facilitates Invasion of weeds and exotic .spp
  • Local break·down of ecological balance  between species
  • Progressive reduction In species diversity
  • Migration of wild animals to areas of nutritious  plant growth

Organic Production and decomposition

  • Loss of biomass
  • Reduced primary production and energy capture due to leaf loss
  • Reduced secondary production until new flush of  plant growth
  • Divrsion of photosynthate to plant shoots
  • Reduction In organic turnover by decomposition

Nutrient Circulation

  • Loss of elements by windblow ash, smoke and volatizatlon
  • Diminuiton and simpliflcation of  nutrient  cycle
  • Enhanced loss of  elements by surface run-off and leaching
  • Reduced retention of  nutrient capital in organic maIt.r
  • Changed rate of nitrogen fixation

Water Circulation

  • Reduction in Interpretation of precipitation
  • Reduction In transpiration
  • Increase In surface run off
  • Increase In water discharge
  • Increase in soil moisture and htgher water table

Soil  Development

  • Increase in soil erosion with loss of vegetation cover
  • Formation of  a base rich soil surface layer
  • Increase in field soil surface layer affecting microorganisms (e g nitrifers)
  • Death  and decomposition of  plant roots
  • Increase in nutrient by leaching

Table  2: Vegetation types in relation to the total area in Nigeria

Vegetation Type

Land area (%)

Land area km2

Mangrove forest

Freshwater swamp

Tropical Rainforest

Derived Savanna

Guinea Savanna

Sudan Savanna

Sahel

1

3

10

8

40

35

3

12,783

25,563

95,566

75,786

400,158

342,156

31,453

Source: Fed. Dept. Forestry 1994

Table 3: Climatic condition of each vegetation zone

Vegetation zone

Mean annual Rainfall

Duration of Dry season

Sahel

Sudan

Northern Guinea Savanna

Southern Guinea Savanna

Derived Savanna

Forest zone

250 -500mm

500 -1140mm

1070-1270mm

1140-1520mm

1140-1770mm

2780-4000mm

1140-1770mm

2780-4000mm

7-8  months

5-7  months

5-6  months

4-5  months

3-4  months

3  months

3-4  months

3  months

Source : Federal Ministry of Environment, 2003

Table 4:  Forest land designation

Forest Land Designation

Forest Type

Area (ha)

Gross Volume (m3)

Forest Reserve

Lowland Rainforest

788,053

140,682,489.73

Freshwater swamp

186,621

24,397,003.35

Sub-total

974,674

165,079,493.08

Free Area

Lowland Rain Forest

905,930

120,7422,644.93

Freshwater swamp

1,424,995

187,474,508.28

Mangrove Forest

948,430

212,613.14

Sub Total

2,342,147

308,429,366.35

Sum total

Gross Total

3,316,821

473,509,259.43

Source: Fed. Dept. Forestry 1994

3.6 Present status of the forestry sector of Nigeria 

A recent forest resources study carried out by the Federal Department of Forestry, revealed that the forest estate of Nigeria has been very highly depleted. It was estimated that only about 974,674 hectares of the forest reserves is productive while another 2,342,147 hectares of free areas is partially productive.

Table  5. High forest gross timber volumes, excluding bark by forest designation and forest types Sawn wood Sawn wood is produced by sawmills in Nigeria whose capacity is estimated at 11,684,000 m3 per year in log equivalent (Alviar, 1980).

Table 5: Sawmills estimated capacity and production in 1993

TYPE

NUMBER

CAPACITY (m3)

PRODUCTION (m3)

CDs & Carriages

1,600

5,500,000

2,531,000

Portables

100

57,000

30,000

Pit Sawing

1,000

285,000

150,000

Total

2,700

5,842,000

2,711,000

Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

3.7 Wildlife conservation

The main problems facing wildlife conservation in Nigeria include poaching, over exploitation, lack of accurate data, bush burning which destroys wildlife habitat especially in the savannah, overgrazing, poor funding of management and research and low managerial capability. The Federal Government has responded with the creation of 8 National Parks distributed across the major ecological zones viz

Table  6: National Park Area(ha)Year

Chad Basin

45,696 1991

Cross River

422,688 1991

Gashaka/Gumti

636,300 1991

Kainji Lake

534,082 1975

Old Oyo

251,230 1991

Yankari

224,400 1991

Kamuku

112,700 1999

Okomu

11,200 1999

Total

2,238,296

Source: Fed. Dept. Forestry 1994

There are about 1,129 forest reserves, 29 game reserves and 4 game sanctuaries and 8 National Parks.

3.8 Demand for Forest Products

Unlike the predictions by most past studies, the demand for most forest wood products have stabilized, except for round wood, fuel wood and saw log and veneer logs. With 95% certainly we are accurate in predicting that the following wood products will stabilize. Demand for some wood products.

Wood Products

Annual Demand

Industrial Round wood (m3)

7,523,772

Sawn wood (m3)

2,429,870

Particle board (m3)

30,948

Paper and Paper Board Imports (M.T.)

108,451

Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

The prospect for wood products in Nigeria is bleak and Nigeria will of necessity become import dependent in respect of wood products. The demand estimate for the current study has been based on simple projection of trends of the form Yt = aD t + Yt-1.

Where Yt = Demand for a particular product in year t

Yt – 1 = Lagged demand

a = parameter estimate

t = time

D = change

A comparison between the current and past demand estimates is presented in Tables 4 and 5. The individual forecasts are close.

Table 7: A comparison of demand forecasts for round wood (in 1000 m3).

STUDIES

1985

1995

2000

2010

2020

FDF (2000) Round wood

113,602

126,887

153,458

180,008

Fuel wood

93,544

104,244

125,644

147,044

Industrial R/wood

7,524

7,524

7,524

7,524

Saw Log/V. log

598

1,073

2,118

2,973

Gen. Woods (1994)

Fuel wood

128,495

156,634

Pulp wood

135

135

Saw log

7,558

10,935

Veneer logs

618

618

IBRD (1992)*

Fuel wood

109,966

111,102

Poles

2,874

3,441

Pulp wood

539

959

Saw log

4,199

6,432

 

Veneer log

858

1,359

Round wood equivalent

Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

Table 8: A comparison between demand forecasts for wood products (units in 1000)

STUDIES

1985

1995

2000

2010

2020

FDF (2000)

Sawn wood (m3)

2,430

2,430

2,430

2,430

Particle Board (m3)

31

31

31

31

Paper & Paper bd. Imputs (M.T.)

108

108

108

108

IBRD (1992)

Sawn wood (m3)

4,199

6,432

Plywood (m3)

286

453

Particle board (m3)

111

230

Newsprint (M.T.)

93

166

Printing & Writing paper (M.T.)

11

21

Other paper & Paper board (M.T.)

50

87

Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

Past studies indicate that demand for wood products will continue to increase as opposed to the current study which predicts a stable demand.

  1. ANTICIPATED CHANGES IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR TO YEAR 2020

4.1 Land Use Dynamics

An analysis of land use in Nigeria shows the annual changes as indicated in Table 6.

Table 9: Land use trends in Nigeria

Land use category

Annual Rate of Change (ha/year)

Agriculture (Intensive/ Extensive)

554,657.10

Floodplain Agriculture

67,616.10

Grass land

131,224.60

Dominantly trees/woodlands/ shrubs

-858,720.40

Dominantly shrubs and grasses

-104,974.30

Dominantly grasses

6166.16

Forest

-104,231.00

Freshwater marsh/swamp

-69,453.05

Forested freshwater swamp

1707.86

Mangrove forest

-14,982.77

Water

45,474.02

Bare surface

129,113.70

Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

Agricultural cropland is consuming the largest chunk of 554,657.10 ha annually while dominant category of trees/woodlands and shrubs is loosing the largest chunk of 858,720.40 ha annually.

Table  10: Comparative land use pattern 1995 to 2020 (ha)

Land use category

Base Year 1995

Year 2010

Year 2020

Steady State

Agric.Crop land

61,900,000

68,063,519.12

70,652,157.4

87,408,772.80

Flood plain Agriculture

2,400,000

3,141,000.30

3,390,061.50

479,782.74

Grassland

3,150,000

4,398,237.70

4,765,522.33

1,071,156.36

Dominantly trees/wood land

and shrub

9,000,000

3,866,595.70

2,276,169.60

7309.53

Dominant shrubs & grass

7,100,000

4,290,518.19

3,017,151.27

102,582.79

Dominantly grasses

1,100,000

1,065,057.36

1,040,003.02

227,529.66

Forest

2,650,000

1,436,848.03

938,066.41

928.69

Freshwater mash/swamp

620,000

181,072.05

100,943.30

3534.37

Forested freshwater Swamp

1,800,000

1,820,088.57

1,834,929.55

3,134,485.64

Mangrove forest

1,190,000

978,706.18

845,074.30

701.26

Water

680,000

1,065,985.97

1,144,629.79

172,307.77

Bare surface

1,892,000

3,174,370.71

3,477,292.00

872,908.43

Total

93,482,000

93, 482,000.00

93,482,000

93,482.000

                                                                    Source: FDF(1988) Forest Resource Study

The consequences of the present land use trend on forestry development need no further elaboration. It will be catastrophic to say the least unless urgent steps are taken to reverse the situation.

4.2 Game Reserves

The following are some of the existing game reserves.

Falgore Game Reserves, Akpaka Game Reserves, Lame-burra Game Reserves, Kwaiambana Game Reserves Dagidda Game Reserves, Ibi Game Reserves, Pai River Game Reserves, Ankwe Game Reserves, Wase Game Santurary, Wase Rock Game Reserves Bakono Game Reserves.

4.3 National Parks

At present there are eight National Parks, they all derive their origins from previous Game Reserves. These are: Kainji Lake National Park, Yankari National Park, Old Oyo National Park, Cross River National Park, Chad Basin National Park, Gashaka Gumti National Park, Okomu National Park, Kamuku National Park.

Table  11:  Distributions of Forest Reserves in Nigeria by Geopolitical Zone (Onochie, 1984)

Geo-political zones

Total land

Areas (sq.km)

Area of Reserves

Forest (sq.km)

% of land Area

Reserved as Forest

1

North-West

205,096.03

31,190.19

15.21 %

2

North East

278,148.03

18215.36

6.55 %

3

North  Central

234,754.96

24,084.95

10.26 %

4

South West

77,656.44

12,958.77

16.69 %

5

South East

28,612.55

446.31

1.63 %

6

South  South

83.784.50

13,075.94

15.61 %

Nigeria

90,055.61

99,991.92

10.992 %

                                                                                                    Source: FMANR, 1990.

As a result of  high population density in the South East zone, ithas the smallest areas of reserved forest.Other forest reserves are listed below viz : Olokemeji forest reserves, Gambari forest reserves, Omo forest reserves, Akure/Ofosu forest reserves,Idanre forest reserves, Ifon/Owo forest reserves, Eba forest reserves, Ofogbo forest reserves, Obiaruku forest reserves, Ngel-Nyaki forest reserves, Afi River Forest Reserve, forest reserves, Ibadan, Kagoro-Nindam forest reserves, Donga River Basin forest reserves, Upper Orashi forest reserves, Biseni forest reserves, Akassa forest reserves.

V.    CONCLUSION 

The traditional land use supporting domestic and commercial requirements for food, livestock and fuelwood sustain the rural and national economy but at great risks to the natural environment. The solution for a stable natural ecosystem is not at sight because the control and management of the factors responsible for environmental degradation are difficult to put in place. It is suggested that government should maximize opportunities of global concern for tropical rainforest conservation to raise funds for resource sustenance through public education and productive program.

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