Forest is defined as a large area of land covered with trees and bushes, either growing wild or planted for some purposes. Forestry in the other hand is an art of planting, tending and managing forests, and the utilization of their products. Silviculture is the study of forest trees and other related trees. In this post, you will learn everything about forest management in Nigeria, importance, forest regulations, advantages and disadvantages.
Types of Forest Trees in Nigeria
These are some of the popular trees found in the Nigerian forest: Obeche, Sapele, Iroko, Mahogany, Nigerian Walnut, Camwood, Opepe, Afara, Black Afara, Teak, Ukpaka (oil bean), Abura, Ekimwin.
Importance or Uses of Forest
- The wood of the trees provide planks for making furniture, Canoes, coffins, pulp for making paper and match sticks.
- It is a good source of fuel in the countryside.
- Trees in the form of timber can be a good source of revenue and foreign exchange to the country.
- It is the home for wild animals like antelopes, monkeys, elephants, snakes, etc.
- The wild animals in the forest acts as a good source of food for man.
- Provides medicinal herbs for the traditional healer who makes use of these herbs for curing various types of diseases.
- It provides variety of fruits like African Star Apple, Nuts, vegetables, Kola, etc.
- Provides employment for people ranging from the forest guards, saw-millers to the forest lawyers.
- Forest trees serve as wind breaks thereby preventing wind erosion and desert encroachment.
- Helps to prevent soil erosion in the forest zones. The intensity of rain drops is reduced by the leaves. the stems reduce the speed of wind and the roots help to bind the soil together.
- Forest trees help to increase the fertility of the soil by circulating plant nutrients between the top and sub soils.
- It beautifies the environment.
- Assists water shed management.
- Encourages nutrient recycling in the soil.
- It reduces atmospheric pollution.
- Provides materials such as ropes, fibres, dyes and resins, which are used for both domestic and industrial purposes. Gum, resins, rubber, palm produce and oil seeds are also got from the forest.
- It helps to determine the amount of rainfall, by increasing cloud cover and transpiration rate.
- It also serves as a center for tourist attraction.
- Forest helps in the purification of the air by removing carbondioxide (during photosynthesis, and adding oxygen (during respiration).
- Forest helps to improve soil structure.
Types of Forest Reserve in Nigeria
- Shasha Rivers forest reserve in Ogun State.
- Omo forest reserve in Ogun State.
- Sakpoba forest reserve in Edo State.
- Okomu forest reserve in Edo State.
- Mamu River Forest reserve in Anambra State.
- Afi River forest reserve in Cross River State.
- Oba Hills forest reserve in Oyo State.
- Sanga River Forest reserve in Plateau State.
- Anara Forest reserve in Kaduna State.
- Zamfara forest reserve in Zamfara State.
Management of Forest in Nigeria
The following management techniques are important so as to ensure the continuous supply of forest products. They include:
(1) forest regulation (2) selective exploration (3) deforestation (4) regeneration (5) Taungya system.
Forest Regulations in Nigeria
These are the laws promulgated by government in form of degrees, edicts, and bye-laws to prevent people from exploiting the forest at will, that is, it helps to conserve or preserve forest trees. The regulations in Nigeria include:
- Encouraging people to plant trees.
- The prohibition of bush burning, the cutting down of timber trees, except with an official permit and the cutting down of trees in a forest reserve.
- Illegal felling of trees should not be encouraged.
- Harvesting of an under-aged tress, that is, the tree could only be harvested when it is about 20 or 25 years old.
This is the process of cutting or harvesting only mature trees. Maturity is attained at about 20 or 25 years or when a particular girth or size is reached. The system allows for the harvesting of older trees while the younger ones remain as cover to the surface of the forest.
Advantages of Selective Exploration
- Young tree plants of value are prevented from destruction.
- It encourages continuous supply of timber.
- Only trees specified dimension, girth, or species are cut for use.
- It prevents soil erosion.
Deforestation is the cutting down of trees in the reserve. Economic trees when cut are sent to the industries for making furniture, sometimes to supply fuel. Deforestation must be orderly in order not to induce soil erosion and sometimes scarcity of forest products. There is usually no replacement of trees after cutting down and it normally results into destabilization of the ecosystem in the environment.
Effects of Deforestation
- It encourages/increases soil erosion.
- Reduces water percolation rate.
- Results in loss of soil nutrients.
- Reduces the amount of rainfall in the area.
- Hinders soil micro-organic activities.
- Reduces wild life population in the area concerned.
- May lead to desertification.
Disadvantages of Deforestation in Nigeria
- It leads to loss of organic matter.
- It leads to destruction of soil structure.
- It increases leaching of plants nutrients.
- Wildlife are denied of their habitat.
- Soil moisture retention is affected.
- It leads to desert encroachment.
- Valuable trees are destroyed.
- It leads to soil erosion.
This is the process by which trees make provision for their lost parts. It could be also be defined as the regrowth of trees following forest exploitation. it can be renewed artificially or natural regrowth of stumps.The forest reserve may accidentally be blown down by rain or wind storm or be selectively explored.The ability of new sprouts to come out within a very short time is where regeneration is important.
Forests prefer trees with high regenerative quality than those with low regenerative quality. Timber crops may be regenerated naturally, that is, where conducive environment of volunteer trees are established deliberately in a plantation.
- it costs less to establish
- No need of special management
- It brings about natural vegetation again
Afforestation is the process by which new seedlings are planted to replace the already harvested tree. In Nigeria, it is known as tree planting scheme or campaign in which two seedlings are planted to replace any one plant harvested. seedlings are made available to individual at cheap prices. This will help to check desert encroachment, check erosion and provide more forest produce at a reduced price.
Effects/Advantages of Afforestation
- Reduces soil erosion.
- Increases water percolation.
- Leads to increase soil nutrients.
- Increases humus content of the soil.
- Increases the amount of rainfall.
- Improves soil micro-organism.
- Reduces desertification.
- Increases wildlife population in the habitat.
- It increases soil fertility
- Desertification is prevented.
- Pollution of the environment is reduced.
- t serves as a wind break.
- It provides raw materials.
- Provision of good environment for wildlife.
- Soil structure is built up.
This is a system whereby forest trees (economic trees) and food crops are planted together on the same piece of land. It involves the integration of agriculture with forestry.
The food crops cultivated provide initial shade for the economic trees, which are either annual or biennials but not permanent. This system will encourage the growth of economic trees in a non-economic area.
The conditions under which taungya system may be practiced includes:
- Where land is scarce
- Over-population in the area
- Under-employment and unemployment of the youths
- Where government policies permit the integration of forestry and agricultural departments
- Poor or low living standard
- Loans or additional source of fund from relatives or friends.
Advantages of Taungya System
The benefits farmers get from Taungya system of forest management include:
- The farmer can make use of the available fertile land for farming.
- The standard of living can be improved.
- Provides some forest products for farmers use e.g. firewood (fuel).
- It provides adequate employment.
- It increases the farmer’s knowledge on other areas of agriculture other than food crop production.
- It is a means of conserving resources.
- It promotes increase in food production.
- It encourages maximum use of land.
- It increases the income of the farmer.
- If legumes are cultivated, the increases soil nutrients.
- Weed can easily be controlled.
- There is a reduction in the cost of establishing a forest reserve.
- More farmland can be under forest cover.
Disadvantages of Taungya System
- It allows for the cultivation of only annual and biannual crops in the forest reserve.
- Competition between the crops may exist for food and water.
- The soil may not favour certain crops due to the incidence of ants in the reserve.
- The process may be monotonous as the farmer performs the same duty every season.
- The forestry sector may be reluctant in releasing their fertile land for agricultural sector.
Forest is a large area of land covered with trees, and bushes either growing wild or planted for some purposes. Some of the trees found in the forest reserves in Nigeria are Obeche, Sapele, Iroko, Mahogany, Walnut, Opepe, Afara, Teak, Ukpaka and Abura.
Forest is important for the following reasons: provides raw materials for some industries, source of fuel, foreign exchange earner, source of food, provision of medicinal herbs,provision of employment, prevention of soil erosion, beautification, centre for tourist attraction, helps in the purification of the air by removing carbondioxide during photosynthesis.
The following management techniques are important so as to ensure the continuous supply of forest products – forest regulation, selective exploration, deforestation, regeneration, afforestation and taungya system of forest management in Nigeria.