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This research project examined the distribution and utilization of forest resources and its implication on traditional medicine. Specific emphasis was placed on the distribution, level of utilization and rationales for the utilization of medicinal plants in Mbo Local Government Area. Consequently, the study was a descriptive cross sectional design and used structured interviews, questionnaires, and past research works as instruments for collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. A sample size of 245 questionnaires was used and Simple Stratified sampling technique was applied to separate the entire study area into five communities as well as Simple Random Sampling Technique in questionnaire administration at those communities. Also, Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20.0 software where a One-way Analysis of Variance was applied to test for variations in the distribution of forest resources and Regression Analysis was also applied to show the effect of forest resources on medicinal plants. The study revealed that 72.6 % of the rural population utilized traditional medicine, it also revealed that traditional medicine were mostly used in the treatment of malaria (20.5%), skin diseases (12.2%) and gastrointestinal diseases (9.8%) and the most commonly used herbs were Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina, 5.7%), Pendant amaranth (Amaranthus cauditus, 5.3%), Bush apple (Heinsia crinite, 5.3%) and Hunter's weed (Justicia insularis, 5.3%). This showed that there is a strong belief in the potency of traditional medicine making its role in health care delivery significant.Therefore, this study strongly advocates a strong policy strategy that would incorporate Trado-medical healthcare delivery system to the overall health care delivery system within the state, through legislation and advocacy.



1.1       Background of Study

The concept of Forests and Forest Management has changed substantially over the past few decades.  Overall, this period has seen a series of positive metamorphosis. However, globally, the extent of the world’s forests continues to reduce as human populations increases and demand for food and land increases, the rate of net forest loss has been cut by over 50 percent. At the same time, the attention paid to Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) has never been higher: More land is designated as permanent forest, more assessment, monitoring, reporting, planning and stakeholder involvement is taking place, and the legal frameworks for SFM are being widely adopted. Larger areas are being designated for conservation of biodiversity while at the same time forests are meeting increasing demands for forest products and services (FAO, 2015).

In 1990, the world had 4 128 million ha of forest; by 2015 this area had decreased to 3 999 million ha. This is a change from 31.6 percent of global land area in 1990 to 30.6 percent in 2015. Yet deforestation, or forest conversion to other land use, is more complicated than that. Forest gains and losses occur continuously, and forest gains are particularly difficult to monitor even with high-resolution satellite imagery. Natural forest and planted forest area change dynamics differ across national circumstances and forest types. Forests are distributed across the globe. Thirty-one percent of Earth’s total forest area is found in Asia (including Asian Russia), followed by 21% in South America, 17% in Africa, 17% in North and Central America, 9% in Europe, and 5% in Oceania (FAO 2010). Globally, 5% of forests are plantations generally used for commercial purposes.

According to Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 done by the Food and Agricultural Organization, the following statistical findings were concluded. The bulk of the world’s forests are natural forest, with reported natural forest area amounting to 93 percent of global forest area, or 3.7 billion ha, in 2015.  From 2010 to 2015, it was reported that natural forest area decreased by a net 6.5 million ha per year. This is a reduction in net annual natural forest loss from 10.6 million ha per year for the period 1990 to 2000. Most natural forest falls into the category of “other naturally regenerated forest” (74 percent); the remaining 26 percent is reported as primary forest. Since 1990, 31 million ha of primary forest have been reported by countries as modified or cleared. This does not necessarily mean that primary forest is converted to other land uses. Primary forest, when modified but not cleared, changes into other naturally regenerated forest and, in some cases, planted forest. Planted forest area has increased by over 105 million ha since 1990. The average annual rate of increase between 1990 and 2000 was 3.6 million ha. The rate peaked at 5.9 million ha per year for the period 2000 to 2005 and slowed to 3.3 million ha per year between 2010 and 2015, as planting decreased in East Asia, Europe, North America, and South and Southeast Asia. Wood removals increased slightly from 1990 to 2011, while reliance on wood fuel has remained large, particularly in low-income countries. In 2011 annual wood removals amounted to 3.0 billion m3 globally, of which 49 percent were for wood fuel.

 In 2015, about 31% of the world’s forests were primarily designated as production forest, a slight decrease of 13.4 million ha since 1990. In addition, close to 28 percent of the reported forest area was designated for multiple uses and decreased by 37.5 million ha between 1990 and 2015. Multiple-use forests are managed to provide a wide range of products and services simultaneously.

According to Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, the following key findings were made as of that year. Forests cover 31 percent of total land area. The world’s total forest area is just over 4 billion hectares, which corresponds to an average of 0.6 ha per capita. The five most forest-rich countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) account for more than half of the total forest area. Ten countries or areas have no forest at all and an additional 54 have forest on less than 10 percent of their total land area.

Around 13 million hectares of forest were converted to other uses or lost through natural causes each year in the last decade compared with 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s. Both Brazil and Indonesia, which had the highest net loss of forest in the 1990s, have significantly reduced their rate of loss, while in Australia, severe drought and forest fires have exacerbated the loss of forest since 2000. Large-scale planting of trees is significantly reducing the net loss of forest area globally Afforestation and natural expansion of forests in some countries and regions have reduced the net loss of forest area significantly at the global level. The net change in forest area in the period 2000–2010 is estimated at 5.2 million hectares per year (an area about the size of Costa Rica), down from 8.3 million hectares per year in the period 1990–2000. South America and Africa continue to have the largest net loss of forest.

At a regional level, South America suffered the largest net loss of forests between 2000 and 2010, about 4.0 million hectares per year followed by Africa, which lost 3.4 million hectares annually. Oceania also reported a net loss of forest (about 700 000 ha per year over the period 2000 - 2010), mainly due to large losses of forests in Australia, where severe drought and forest fires have exacerbated the loss of forest since 2000. The area of forest in North and Central America was estimated as almost the same in 2010 as in 2000. The forest area in Europe continued to expand, although at a slower rate (700 000 ha per year) than in the 1990s (900 000 ha per year). Asia, which had a net loss of forest of some 600 000 ha annually in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forest of more than 2.2 million hectares per year in the period 2000 - 2010, primarily due to the large-scale afforestation reported by China and despite continued high rates of net loss in many countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Forests store a vast amount of carbon Estimates made for FRA 2010 show that the world’s forests store 289 gigatonnes (Gt.) of carbon in their biomass alone. While sustainable management, planting and rehabilitation of forests can conserve or increase forest carbon stocks, deforestation, degradation and poor forest management reduce them. For the world as a whole, carbon stocks in forest biomass decreased by an estimated 0.5 Gt. annually during the period 2005–2010, mainly because of a reduction in the global forest area (FAO, 2012).

Primary forests account for 36 % of forest area but have decreased by more than 40 million hectares since 2000. On a global average, more than one-third of all forest is primary forest, i.e. forest of native species where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes have not been significantly disturbed. Primary forests, in particular tropical moist forests, include the most species-rich, diverse terrestrial ecosystems. The decrease of primary forest area, 0.4 percent annually over a ten-year period, is largely due to reclassification of primary forest to ‘other naturally regenerated forest’ because of selective logging and other human interventions. The area of planted forest is increasing and now accounts for 7 % of total forest area. Forests and trees are planted for many purposes and make up an estimated 7 % of the total forest area, or 264 million hectares. Between 2000 and 2010, the area of planted forest increased by about 5 million hectares per year (FAO, 2012).

12% of the world’s forests are designated for the conservation of biological diversity. The area of forest where conservation of biological diversity is designated as the primary function has increased by more than 95 million hectares since 1990, of which the largest part (46 percent) was designated between 2000 and 2005. These forests now account for 12 % of the total forest area or more than 460 million hectares. Most but not all of them are located inside protected areas.

Legally established protected areas cover an estimated 13 % of the world’s forests National parks, game reserves, wilderness areas and other legally established protected areas cover more than 10 percent of the total forest area in most countries and regions. The primary function of these forests may be the conservation of biological diversity, the protection of soil and water resources, or the conservation of cultural heritage. The area of forest within a protected area system has increased by 94 million hectares since 1990. Two-thirds of this increase has been since 2000.

Eight % of the world’s forests have protection of soil and water resources as their primary objective. Around 330 million hectares of forest are designated for soil and water conservation, avalanche control, sand dune stabilization, desertification control or coastal protection. The area of forest designated for protective functions increased by 59 million hectares between 1990 and 2010, primarily because of large-scale planting in China aimed at desertification control, conservation of soil and water resources and other protective purposes. The management of forests for social and cultural functions is increasing, but the area is difficult to quantify. The only sub regions and regions with fairly good data on the designation of forests for recreation, tourism, education or conservation of cultural and spiritual heritage are East Asia and Europe, where provision of such social services was reported as the primary management objective for 3 and 2 percent of the total forest area, respectively. Brazil has designated more than one-fifth of its forest area for the protection of the culture and way of life of forest-dependent people. Globally, 4 percent of the world’s forests are designated for the provision of social services (FAO, 2013).

Around 10 million people are employed in forest management and conservation – but many more are directly dependent on forests for their livelihoods Reported employment in forest establishment, management and use declined by about 10 % between 1990 and 2005, probably because of gains in labor productivity. Europe, East Asia and North America saw steep declines (15 to 40 % between 1990 and 2005), while in other regions, employment increased somewhat – probably because round wood production has increased faster than gains in labor productivity. Most countries reported increased employment in management of protected areas. Given that much forestry employment is outside the formal sector, forest work is surely much more important for rural livelihoods and national economies than the reported figures suggest (FAO, 2013).

 Governments generally spend more on forestry than they collect in revenue. On average, total forest revenue collection was about US$4.5 per hectare, ranging from under US$1 per hectare in Africa to just over US$6 per hectare in Europe. Public expenditure on forestry was about US$7.5 per hectare on average. Average expenditure was highest in Asia (over US$20 per hectare). In contrast, the average expenditure per hectare was less than US$1 in South America and Oceania. Significant progress has been made in developing forest policies, laws and national forest programs Of the 143 countries that have a forest policy statement, 76 countries have issued or updated their statements since 2000. Of the 156 countries that have a specific forest law, 69 countries primarily in Europe and Africa reported that their current forest law has been enacted or amended since 2005. Close to 75 percent of the world’s forests are covered by a national forest program, i.e. a participatory process for the development and implementation of forest-related policies and international commitments at the national level. Staff numbers in public forest institutions are decreasing Around 1.3 million people were reported to work in public forest institutions in 2008, 22 percent of whom were female. At the global level, the number of staff has declined by 1.2 percent annually since 2000. More than 20 000 professionals work in public forest research institutions. The number of university students graduating in forestry is increasing More than 60 000 university students’ graduate in forestry annually. This equates to about 1 per 86 000 inhabitants, or around 200 per 10 million hectares of forests. One third of graduating students are female, and this proportion is increasing (FAO, 2015).

Eighty % of the world’s forests are publicly owned, but ownership and management of forests by communities, individuals and private companies is on the rise despite changes in forest ownership and tenure in some regions, most of the world’s forests remain under public ownership. Differences among regions are considerable. North and Central America, Europe (other than the Russian Federation), South America and Oceania have a higher proportion of private ownership than other regions. In some regions, there is an increasing trend toward involving communities, individuals and private companies in the management of publicly owned forests (FAO, 2015).

Forests are managed for a multitude of uses and values Forests are increasingly being conserved and managed for multiple uses and values often in combination. Around 949 million hectares, or 24 % of all forests, are designated for multiple uses, i.e. managed for any combination of the production of goods, protection of soil and water, conservation of biodiversity and provision of social services or where none of these alone is considered as the predominant function. More than 1.6 billion hectares of forest have a management plan. The area of forest covered by a management plan is steadily increasing, yet information is only available for 80 percent of the total forest area. For the first time, information was also collected on the area of forest under sustainable forest management (FAO, 2015).

However, Africa has the second highest rate of tropical deforestation in the World. FAO (2010) estimated that the tropical forests in this region declined at an annual rate of 3.4 million hectares between 2000 and 2010 through degradation and deforestation processes. According to Alao (2005) Nigeria’s timber reserves have diminished rapidly, supply can no longer cope with demand and there is a yawning gap between production and supply. Alao (2005) proffered that the only answer to the problem of reduction in stand quality and quantity is to educate the forest users about the effects of forest degradation and encourage everyone to plant trees. According to The United Nation Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, UNREDD  (2013),  Nigeria’s forest estate which stood at over 9.6 million hectares constitute about 10% of Nigeria’s land area with 31% in Cross River State while the bulk of the timber and other wood by Nigeria are supplied by Ogun, Ondo and Oyo States of Nigeria. This clearly falls below the Food and Agricultural Organization’s recommended National minimum of 25% (FAO, 2015).   Studies  have  shown  that forest  reserves  occupy  about  10  million  ha  in  Nigeria, which  accounts  for  about  10%  of  a  land  area  of approximately  96.2  million  ha  (FAO, 2012). The rate of deforestation in Nigeria is reported to range from 3.5 to 3.7% per annum, translating to a loss of 350,000 forest land per annum (UN- 400,000 hectares of REDD, 2013). Between 1990 and 2005 the World lost 3.3% of its forest, while Nigeria alone lost 21% of the global estimate (UN REDD, 2013). The 10% forest estate of Nigeria’s land area after 18 years could thus be less than 6% (Adepoju, 2001). According to Trade Investment in Nigeria (2013) the loss of forest land from 13.07km 2 in 2002 to 9.93km 2 in 2010 is a  serious decline and not good for forests development and green economy in Nigeria. The rapid rate of deforestation in Nigeria is a key driving force in the yearly increase of flood disasters, global warming, ozone layer depletion, land degradation and soil erosion (Chomini, Omoshebi, Adenug and Emefiene, 2013; and Farinola, Famuyide, Adebayo,O; Awe, and Adedokun, 2013). FAO (1991) submitted that Nigeria destroys 600,000 ha of forest annually whereas 25,000 ha are replenished. Eboh (2005) estimated that Nigeria looses about 180 billion naira annually to deforestation. Akindele, Dyck, Papka, and Olaleye (2001) estimated the total area of the 27 main plantation species in Nigeria at 184,611 ha with a volume of 78,600,160 m which is a 14.5% reduction of FORMECU 1991 estimated figures. FAO (2005) also reported that Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the World; between 2000 to 2005 Nigeria lost 55.7% of its primary forests due to logging, agricultural expansion and fuel wood collection (Eleanya, Kelechi, 2014).

Plants have formed the basis of sophisticated traditional medicine (TM) practices that have been used for thousands of years by people in China, India, and many other countries. Some of the earliest records of the usage of plants as drugs are found in the Artharvaveda, which is the basis for Ayurvedic medicine in India (dating back to 2000 BCE), the clay tablets in Mesopotamia (1700 BCE), and the Eber Papyrus in Egypt (1550 BCE). Other famous literature sources on medicinal plant include De Materia Medica, written by Dioscorides between CE 60 and 78, and Pen Ts‘ao Ching Classic of Materia Medica (wri

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