PLANTATION FORESTRY AND ASSOCIATED ECOSYSTEM SERVICE BENEFITS AT LANDSCAPE SCALE

Nwabueze I. Igu, Amauchechukwu Udeogu, Benedicta Okafor

Abstract


With little information on the ecosystem services of planted forests across Nigeria, especially in south eastern Nigeria, this study sought to understand the ecosystem service potentials of the ecosystem and its prospects for handling natural hazards across the region. This was conducted at a landscape scale by using Ideani community in Anambra state where an extensive forest cover of Anacardium occidentale plantation exists. Questionnaire which focused on understanding the reasons for establishing the plantation, ecosystem services it provides, challenges it encountered and ongoing forest dynamics of the ecosystem, were used to elicit information from respondents across the study area. Using simple random sampling technique, thirty responses were elicited for each of the four villages and this gave a total of 120 responses. Principal component analysis, correlation analysis and descriptive statistics: frequency and simple percentages were employed for the analysis. The study revealed that the forest was useful for ecosystem services namely: provisioning, regulating and supporting services. Provisioning services constituted the bulk of the services derived from the ecosystem and were to a large extent responsible for much of the forest dynamics and cover changes experienced over the years. The ecosystem was equally seen to provide regulatory functions through erosion control and sparingly benefited the zone in supportive roles through soil fertility augmentation. Generally, the dynamics of the ecosystem showed that there were decline in the forest cover and extent and this was attributed to lumbering, bush burning and pest/disease attacks on the plantation. On the whole, the ecosystem was seen to benefit the community and suitable for mitigating natural hazard (erosion) and climate change concerns. Efforts to ensure that the landscape is protected from further losses and consequent reduction in the ecosystem services it provides were advocated across the zone.


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