Ekiti State (5°25'-8°20'N, 5°00'-6°00'E), located in the southwestern part of Nigeria (Kayode, 2002) has its vegetation consisting of the dry lowland rainforest and the derived savanna. 297.2 km2 of the states vegetation is under reservation as government forest reserves, unreserved forests known as free area measured 3,969.0 km2 (Falaye et al., 2006) while the total land area of the state is 7000 km2 (Anonymus, 1997). The state that has a population of 1.6 million has a total of 100 sawmills, all of which depend on timber as their raw materials. Apart from their usefulness for building construction and furniture, they served as a major source of income to individuals as well as the government. Thus the importance of timber resources as major forest products in the State cannot be over-emphasized.
Recently, there has been a gross increase in the demand for timber and wood products in the state (Anonymous, 2006), yet the current rate of deforestation in the state is unprecedented, while afforestation and reforestation rates had been so low. The continued timber cutting without replacement had been observed to be one of the factors responsible for biodiversity loss. Consequent on the above a study of the timber supply pattern becomes imperative. This study therefore aimed at the examination of the timber supply pattern in the study area with a view to determine its implications on the conservation of the timber species.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Combinations of social surveys and direct field observations (Kayode et
al., 1997) were used in this study. Thirty sawmills located at different
parts of the state were randomly selected. Visits were made to the selected
sawmills at 2 weeks interval for a period of 12 months. At each visit, the timber
logs in each sawmill were counted, source(s) of exploitation determined, the
individual timber species was identified and the volume determined. Timber species
found to be supplied regularly in the study area were later classified into
three volume groups as A>1000 m3, B 100-1000 m3 and
C<100 m3. The timber species with high demand based on their utility
values were identified and their characteristics defined by the respondents.
Secondary information were obtained from plank sellers, carpenters, joiners and forestry officials within the immediate vicinity of each sawmill, as well as from records available at the Department of Forestry, Ministry of Environment in the state.
A total of 53 timber species belonging to 20 different families were sampled during the study (Table 1), 33 of these species were found to be supplied regularly to the sawmills while 22 of them were found to be in high demand by respondents in the study area. Most (95%) of these species were sourced from the free areas while those sourced from the reserves were mere 5%. Most of the timber species were indigenous species. Only 2, Gmelina arborea and Tectonia grandis, were exotics. These exotic species were mostly sourced from the reserves. Field observation revealed that exploitation in the reserves were limited to licensed saw millers and registered timber contractors only. There were a total of 10 forest reserves in the state. Most of these reserves were highly exploited with only two presently recouping (Ogbese and Egbe Forest Reserves, Table 2). The difficult terrain in Ogotun Forest Reserve makes exploitation difficult in the reserve while an on-going land dispute in Eporo Forest Reserve was responsible for the government decision to make the reserve a protected one hence exploitation from the reserve is highly prohibited. The Isan/Ayede Forest Reserve is a woodland savanna. All these factors were responsible for the low timber productivity in these reserves.
|| Checklist of timber species supplied to sawmills in Ekiti
|| Forest reserves located in Ekiti State, Nigeria
|| Volume classification of frequently supplied Timber Species
in Ekiti State, Nigeria
Table 3 shows the volume classification of the 33 regularly supplied timber species in the study area. 13, 16 and 4 timber species, representing % of the species were in Groups A, B and C volume categories respectively. A number of factors were found to be responsible for the demand of the timber species by the relevant stakeholders. These factors included durability, hardness, permeability to nails and screws, sawing and gluing. Table 4 shows the various characteristics defined for 22 timber species that were highly demanded by the relevant stakeholders in the study area. These species were pure indigenous.
|| Species characteristics defined for highly demanded timber
species by stakeholders in Ekiti State, Nigeria
Thus the study revealed that the demand for timber far exceeded the supply. This has resulted to indiscriminate logging of the forest especially in the free area that constituted the major source of supply in the study area. Preference for timber species is now skewed towards species availability rather than choice as desired species and sizes could no longer be met. Species presently being supplied are of diminished quality and quantity. Most of them are now endangered hence they need to be sustainably utilized so that they could meet the needs of the present and future generations. Conservation strategies that would enhance the attainment of this objective need to be formulated. These might include the need, for urgent and intensive research activities into the silviculture of the indigenous timber species, aggressive reforestation excise especially in the reserves, establishment of more forest reserves, massive afforestation program in the study area, review of existing forest laws and regulations with particular emphasis on the sanitization of logging and sawmill operations, public enlightenment campaign with emphasis laid on the review of the existing conservative attitude that discriminate against the use of exotic timber species. At present, the uses as well as preference are skewed towards the indigenous timber species.