Socio-Economic Characteristics and Level of Awareness and Perception on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Programme (REDD+) by Rural Communities in Akure Forest Reserve, Nigeria
Rural communities around Akure forest reserve depend mostly on forest and its products for their livelihoods, which results in its high rate of deforestation. Meanwhile, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation programme (REDD+), one of the international forest-governance initiatives to address sustainable forest anagement and climate change mitigation has been introduced to the reserve. This research investigated the socio-economic status of the communities in Akure forest reserve, level of dependence on the forest resources and their level of awareness and perception about the REDD+ project. Six communities were selected randomly from around the reserve which were in the readiness phase of the REDD+ project. Data were collected through household survey with the use of semi-structured questionnaire administered to 120 respondents (household heads) selected randomly from the communities as well as information from 6 key informants (village heads). Descriptive Statistics and Chi Square test were used in the analysis of the data and the result showed that the main income-generating activity in the communities was farming accounting for 70.8% of the respondents. This affirms that the high level of the households’ dependence on forest resources is traceable to their socio-economic characteristics. Considering the level of awareness of REDD+ project, results revealed that the level of awareness of the key informants about REDD+ was very high (83.3%) while it was very low at the local community level with only 35% of the respondents being aware of the REDD+ project among which 23.3% found it beneficial. Therefore, to enhance the level of effectiveness of REDD+ project implementation, there should be an increase in the level of awareness in the communities.
Keywords: Forest Communities, Awareness, REDD+ Project, Rural livelihood, Deforestation