Deforestation and environmental degradation in the lower Benue Valley of Benue State
AbstractThis study was carried out with a broad objective of knowing the level of deforestation and the tree species used by burnt bricks operators and the effect on the environment. 240 questionnaires were administered on operators in 12 locations in 4 local government areas namely Gwer West, Makurdi, Guma and Gwer. In addition, a participatory approach was used to interact with the operators of the scheme. Responses from 200 respondents were collated and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to generate results which were later presented in tables and bar chart. Results showed that 16 species were used but Prosopis africana, Khaya senegalensis, Vitellaria paradoxa, Lophira lanceolata, Afzelia africana were found to be most favoured. Results also revealed that there was large scale deforestation resulting in biodiversity depletion, soil infertility and increased soil erosion at the river banks as well as remarkable changes in microclimate of the area. 100% of those interviewed admitted that no regeneration efforts were being made to ensure sustained usage of the species. Also, 85% agreed that they were aware of alternative sources of energy for the industry but that they could not afford such sources due to high cost. It was recommended that alternative energy sources such as saw dust, used engine oil, electricity, coal and gas should be adopted to avoid deforestation to curtail further environmental degradation and possible extinction of the favoured species which are already endangered.
Keywords: Burnt bricks, tree species, most favoured, extinct, deforestation, regeneration, environmental degradation
Journal of Environmental Extension Vol 5 2005: 1-4