Gender relationships in forest resource utilization and conservation in Nigeria: implications for environmental sustainability
This paper examines gendered patterns in forest resource utilisation and conservation among rural inhabitants in Ogun State, Nigeria. Qualitative data - participant observation, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews for the paper were drawn from a larger mixed methods, comparative study of natural resource utilisation among rural inhabitants of Ogun State, Nigeria and among rural inhabitants in the Bushbuckridge area of Mphumalanga, South Africa. Focus group discussions were transcribed and analyzed thematically, using a phenomenological method. The results reveal that access to and control of forest resources are complex and heavily influenced by gender. Whereas women rely to a greater extent than men on forests and forest products for both their basic and non-basic needs, they have lesser roles than men in the decision-making that affects and controls their own lives and those of their households and communities. Poverty, cultural beliefs and values of society, social attitudes, limited access to education and lack of alternative sources of income to conservation all constrained women’s participation in decision-making about natural resources. The implications for community-based environmental education are discussed.
Keywords: Gender, forest resources, conservation, Nigeria, environmental sustainability