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The current ecological status of the Kagoro/Tsonje riparian forest was assessed and information was gathered on the flora and bird fauna, water quality parameters and soil status. Other data collections were phytoplankton types and population. Physiocochemical properties of the soil were tested .Modified Whittakker plots were used to evaluate woody species for density, diversity and similarity measure. One metre by one metre quadrats were used to evaluate herbaceous plants for same parameters in addition to dry matter determination. Density and diversity of algal groups in the water were determined using methods described by APHA., while physicochemical parameters of water were tested instrumentally and by laboratory procedures. Results showed that the population of the woody plants in this riparian forest had declined within the period of one year of study. The forest had a woody population of 336 plants in the encroached area per hectare and 97 woody plants in the farmed area per hectare before the farming season. After the farming season, the population of woody plants decreased to 121 and 31 respectively. As a result of the disturbances of the forest, the important Avian species Vannellus supercilliosus, Chrysococyx flavigularis, Cassypha natalensis and Camphephage quiscalina which made the forest to be known for its ornithological importance were not sighted at the time this study was undertaken. The result of the water analysis showed abundance of phytoplakton and Baccillariophyta as the highest algal division at all seasons. The population of this division in the wet season was higher than the dry season [119 and 36] respectively. This trend was similar for Chlorophyta, Cyanophyta and Euglenophyta. Soil particle size of the riparian forest showed a non significant (P> 0.05) difference between farmed and encroached forest segments indicating the variability of soils in a riparian area. The organic carbon content also showed a significant (P < 0.05) difference.
The Kagoro forest comprises of four forest reserves and areas of communal land near Kagoro in Southern Kaduna State of Nigeria. It is located between Jama’a
and Kaura Local Government on latitude 9031`542`` and 9033`509`` N and
longitude 8022`.244`` and 8022`262`` E. The reserves are situated in the Kagoro Hills, ( a western extension of the Jos Plateau) which rises to over 1,300m and dominates the landscape ( Birdlife, 2008,Ezealor, 2002). The area is about 1754 acres (approximately 710 hectares) and is drained by numerous steams which empty into the Sanga River (Benjaminson, 1971, Ezealor, 2002). The vegetation of the forest is a moist type and occurs mainly in river and stream valleys. As a result of the relatively higher annual average rainfall of 1556mm of this area, forest outliers also occur outside of the riparian formations.
The riparian vegetation created by these numerous streams is important to the environment, biodiversity conservation and obviously the people of Kagoro for the following reasons:
It sustains the stream environment, enhances the hydrologic cycle, purifies the atmosphere of some pollutants, and creates conducive habitats of diverse types
Fig. 1: Map Showing Kagoro/Tsonje Forest
for increased flora and wild stock interaction (Austin, 2008). It creates a microclimatic effect distinct from surrounding areas. This particular importance may have accounted for the Kagoro/Tsonje forest being the only known site of habitation within Nigeria for the purple-throated Cuckoo-Shrike Camphephage quiscalina (Abalaka, 2008). It is also one of the two localities where the Red-
capped Robin-chat Cassypha natalensis and the Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococyx flavigularis have been recorded. Another important bird species recorded as associated with vegetation was Brown chested wattled plover Vanellus supercilliosus (Abalaka, 2008, Birdlife, 2008, Ezealor, 2002). The higher rainfall averages over the Kagoro region made the Kagoro forest a close similitude of the moist lowland forest. It was physiognomically an extra zonal formation of the moist lowland forest in the guinea savanna region. The diverse habitats possible in that ecosystem coupled with adjacent moist deciduous forests of guinea vegetation presented a possibility of high density and diversity of fauna and flora.
Due to the intensive farming activities of the people of this region, woodlands have become restricted to ridge mountain tops as previously forested parts have been cleared for agriculture. The patches of Forest in this area typify the ecological phenomenon called forest fragmentation which is tending towards decimation.
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