By Prof Gideon Emelue
Ecosystem refers to a dynamic relationship involving a community or group of living organisms interacting with one another in a specific environment. An ecosystem being a community of living things or organisms (biotic) interacts with non-living (edaphic) components of the environment as a system. The basic component of an ecosystem is the living things (biotic) and edaphic (non-living) factors. Examples of biotic elements are wildlife species or generally fauna and flora. Whether (micro or macro). The edaphic elements include the soil, temperature, light, air etc.
An ecosystem is an integrated zone of different size comprising vegetation fauna, microbes and the environment. Different ecosystems possess well defined soil, climate, flora, fauna and they have the ability for adaptation, change and tolerance.
Examples of ecosystems in Nigeria include Rainforest ecosystem (forest)-Tropical and Temperate,
the Savannah ecosystem (desert) and Marine ecosystem. For good human welfare and survival, a healthy terrestrial ecosystems provide essential products (tangible) and services (intangible) benefits. Over 90% of foods are obtained from the terrestrial ecosystems. Energy, building materials, clothes, medicines, fresh and clean water and clean air are benefits from a sustainable terrestrial ecosystems.
Nigeria has a land area of 99.3million hectares with 10% estimated to have forest cover compared with Ghana’s (41%), Liberia’s (48%), Senegal’s (39%) and Sierra Leone’s (26%). Nigeria’s forest cover is far below FAO’s recommendation of at least 20-25%. The deforestation rate of primary forests from 2000-2005 ranks as follows: Nigeria (55.7%), Vietnam (54.5%), Cambodia (29.4%), Sri Lanka (15.2%) and Malawi (14.9%). Usually, ownership and administration of forests and wildlife protected areas in Nigeria, include communal Forests (Local Government Areas), Forest Reserves (States), Game Reserves (States), Game Sanctuaries (States) and National Parks (Federal Government Nigeria)
There are several factors affecting ecosystems sustainability in Nigeria. The major factor degrading the ecosystems in Nigeria are impact of human activities (Anthropogenic factors). These human activities include deforestation & de-reservation, illegal logging, open grazing, over fishing, Chemical fertilizer applications, bush burning and wildlife poaching, fuel wood extraction, wood extraction for pallets, urbanization, burrowed pits & illegal mining, pollution from gas flaring, oil spilling and uncoordinated land use planning and utilization. Other natural factors are windstorm, wildfire resulting from lightening.
Ecological restoration involves renewing or restoring degraded, damaged ecosystem/habitats in the environment through direct/active human intervention and action. These actions include Individual participation approach, Institutional participation approach, community participation approach, Planting of trees (in compounds at home and schools), Planting of trees in various communities, Planting of trees in compounds of churches, mosques, religions centres, camp grounds, Identify degraded ecosystem such as Urhonigbe Forest Reserve, Advocate that Edo state allow some local communities to manage some degraded forests after enrichment planting has been carried out by expert professionals, Communities should be encouraged to adopt raising of some wildlife species under semi-intensive systems to reduce incursion into the forests, Raise cane rats (glasscutters), Raise snails and Bee keeping
In conclusion, the policies relating to the environment ecosystems management should be reviewed to enable various stakeholders, individuals, communities, local, state, Federal Government and corporate organisations play their roles adequately.
Being a lecture delivered by Professor Gideon Emelue, Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Benin on the occasion of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) World Environment Day celebration in Benin City 8 June, 2021