Woody vegetation status on different altitudinal gradients of an ecotourism destination: Arinta Waterfall, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Altitude plays key roles in determining plant distribution and biodiversity patterns. The importance of vegetation should not be undermined because it is one of the primary factors that determine the eligibility of ecotourism sites. This study was undertaken at Arinta Waterfall, Ekiti State, Nigeria with an aim to determine the woody species composition, structure and the influence of altitude (<440m, 440m – 480m, >480m) on the floristic character of the study area. The Point Centered Quadrant method was employed. A total number of thirty-six (36) different woody species belonging to twenty seven (27) families of woody trees were recorded. Number of species, number of families, mean height and mean diameter at breast height were significantly different among the three selected altitudes (P≤0.05). Richness, Shannon Wiener diversity index, Simpson evenness index and mean tree canopy were not significantly different (P≥0.05). The vegetation of Arinta waterfall still possesses some potential for conservation purposes. Logging activities and agricultural activities are the major human threats at the site. Therefore, there is a need of re-orientation program for the host communities in order to change their value system into imbibing biodiversity conservation and ecotourism development. The supervising ministry on tourism and forestry in Ekiti State, Nigeria in charge of this site should take immediate step to halt further degradation of the habitat cover.
Keywords: Altitude, woody vegetation, waterfall, human activities, ecotourism