Community participation in forest management across protected areas in south eastern Nigeria
The overall aim of this paper was to assess the level of deforestation across three selected protected area clusters assigned as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) pilot sites in Cross River State over two 14 year periods (1986 – 2000 and 2000 – 2014) using multi-temporal remote sensing techniques and ground verification data. The annual deforestation rate for Afi-Mbe cluster declined from 2.1% to 0.5% over both 14-year periods investigated. A similar trend was observed in Ekuri-Ukpon-Cross River South cluster where annual deforestation declined from 1.2% in the first 14-year period to 0.1% in the second 14-year period. However, the mangrove forest cluster experienced a rise in the annual rate of deforestation over both 14-year periods investigated from 0.8% to 4.5%. These results showed that Afi-Mbe and Ekuri-Ukpon-CR South clusters (both managed by local communities, government and conservation organisations) experienced decline in deforestation and subsequent rise in afforestation over the time period investigated. The rapid rise in deforestation across the mangrove forest cluster was attributed to a number of factors which included massive exploitation of forest resources and pressures from high human population, commercial agriculture and immense levels of industrialisation. Based on inputs from local community stakeholders a number of deforestation drivers were identified and ranked in order of magnitude of highest to least and included thus: subsistence agriculture, fuel wood harvesting, logging/timber extraction and commercial agriculture.
Keywords: Local Community, Deforestation, Remote Sensing, UN-REDD