Impacts of Agriculture and Biomass Energy Production on Forest conversion: The Case of Igangan Forest Reserve of Ibarapa Region, South-West Nigeria
Energy and food security are vital needs for human existence. Growing global concerns on fuelwood production and subsistence agriculture are however rooted in the problem of forest degradation activities generally and massive tree felling in particular. The study assessed the relationship between farming and biomass energy activities in Ibarapa region of Oyo state against the environmental problems of deforestation and encroachment into the Igangan Forest Reserve (FR). Data from participatory rural appraisals through Focus Group Discussions, structured interviews and questionnaire administration involving thirty (30) charcoal producers and three hundred and sixty (360) household respondents, were analyzed in a Geographical Information System environment to assess the developments in and around the FR. The results indicate that subsistence agriculture is the most significant of the six major means of livelihood in the study area, while charcoal production, marketing and transportation are gaining prominence increasingly. The consequences of the threats by the land uses to the natural ecosystem and conservation, usually from slash/bush burning and tree felling in the area are established. The fate of the gazetted Igangan FR is also discussed. The study thus advocates the need for aggressive promotion of modern farming techniques while charcoal production activities are strictly monitored for environmental accountability.