Agricultural Science

INFLUENCE OF GENDER ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA

INFLUENCE OF GENDER ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA

INFLUENCE OF GENDER ON SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FOREST RESOURCES IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA

ABSTRACT
Forest, which is a major source of resources in Nigeria, is currently facing accelerateddegradation and depletion. The growing demand for ecosystem services from forests has ledto over-exploitation of the resources, resulting in the extinction of some valuable species.This has continued to impact negatively on the capacity of the forests to mitigate climatechange, conserve biodiversity, safeguard wildlife, and protect land and watershed.Approaches to forest management in Nigeria have not involved women in their desiredperspective, irrespective of their dominant role in collection of forest produce. The influenceof gender relationships on access to forests and forest resource management andsustainability has remained a concern to scholars and practitioners. This concern informed theneed for this study. The broad objective of this study was to examine the effects of gender onsustainable management of forest resources in Abia State, Nigeria. The specific objectives ofthe study were to: identify and examine the participation of male and female farmers in theownership and conservation of forest resources; identify and describe the various forestmanagement practices and to examine the factors influencing the decision of men and womenin the adoption of improved forest resource conservation measures. Others include; examine,the level of adoption of forest resource conservation strategies between the male and femalefarmers; analyze gender distribution of benefits from forest resource exploitation, analyzeperceived importance of forest conservation factors among male and female farmers andexamine the major constraints militating against forest resource conservation and

management.

Relevant data for the study were generated mainly through the administrationof structured questionnaire to farmers, randomly selected from 6 LGAs. A total of 240respondents comprising 120 male and 120 female farmers was drawn from the 410,435 farmfamilies in the state. Information collected include socio-economic characteristics of thefarmers, environmental and institutional factors, gender access to forest resource benefits andforest resource conservation factors. Data generated were analyzed using percentages,frequencies, likert rating scale and Tobit regression model.The major findings were that: useof improved forest management practices was almost non-existent as against the traditionalmanagement practices that were common; female farmers in the study area adopted moreimproved forest conservation measures than their male counterparts. Tobit regressionanalysis showed that the coefficient of gender, land ownership, and dependence on forest forincome were negative and significantly (p < 0.05) affected the adoption of improved forestresource conservation practices of the farmers, while credit access and gender discriminationin forest resource exploitation were positive and significant (p < 0.05). The analysis alsoindicated that forest resource management and conservation is driven by household size, landownership, credit access, gender discrimination and dependence on forest for income and

energy.

The study, among others, recommended the pursuit of forestry management plan withemphasis on gender mainstreaming in forest conservation and management; improvedextension outreach to forest dependent communities; pursuance of community based trainingprogrammes on forest management and conservation, with emphasis on those resources thatare facing the risk of depletion/extinction; and the orientation of village heads on their role as

custodians of natural resources in their communities.



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