Federal republic of nigeria fourth national biodiversity

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i. Protected Areas Network:
Nigeria’s present day National Parks and Game Reserves were originally forest reserves, first established in the early 1900s. The British colonial administration spearheaded the creation of game reserves to conserve wildlife to provide protein supplement and also for posterity (Table 2).
After a survey of the wildlife resources of West Africa in 1932, Col. A. H. Haywood recommended the establishment of game reserves in the savannah region of Nigeria, particularly in Borgu/Oyo; Wase/Muri and the Tsafe/Kwiambana areas. He also recommended the establishment of Game Departments to coordinate wildlife management, enforce wildlife laws and protect endangered species such as Chimpanzee (Pan troglodyte), Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), Ostrich (Struthio camelus), Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), Giraffe (Giraffe camelopardalis), Pigmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberensis helsopi) and water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus).
One important obstacle to wildlife conservation in Nigeria was that the conservation areas included traditional hunting grounds of communities that live around these areas, thereby denying them their hunting rights. To ameliorate this, Nigerian government ensures the participation of Nigerians in wildlife enforcement since they are in the best position to convey conservation ideas to the people, conservation is being limited to specific areas where there would be no conflicts with local interest and all revenues earned from hunting licenses and proceeds from sale of wildlife trophies are being ploughed back into conservation activities.
The Borgu Forest Reserve with an area of 245 km2 was also demarcated and established as a game reserve in 1963 by the Northern Nigeria government.
A comprehensive survey of the wildlife situation in Nigeria in 1962 showed drastic reduction in wildlife numbers when compared with neighbouring countries, a trend attributed to excessive hunting. This led to a recommendation preventing hunting or capture of all species with low or reduced numbers, a ban on night hunting and the establishment of closed hunting seasons. It was further recommended that more game reserves should be established and wildlife advisory board be established with professionally trained ecologists to protect wildlife resources, implement management programmes and carry our research and public enlightenment. Some areas believed to be important for conservation were recommended for immediate protection and designation as game reserves. These include: Lake Chad, Jos Plateau, Lafia (north of River Benue), Mambilla and Obudu, (for gorillas and chimpanzees), Cross River, Upper Ogun and Gilligilli.
On 23 September 1975, the area formerly known as Borgu Game Reserve together with the adjacent Zugurma Game Reserve were declared as the Kainji Lake National Park and the decree for the establishment of this park was eventually promulgated in 1979, with a Board of Trustees. In 1991, the Federal Government created five more National Parks, namely: Gashaka Gumti National Park, Old Oyo National Park and Yankari National Park which has been handed over to Bauchi state since 2006, together with Kainji National Park, came under the management of the National Park Service. Decree 46 of 1999 created two new National Parks, Okomu National Park and Kamuku National Park, bringing the total number of national parks to 8 which has now been reduced to 7 due to the hand over of Yankari National park to Bauchi state with 28 game reserves in the country (figure 1).


Name of Park



Vegetation Type


Kamuku National Park

121,130 ha

Kaduna State

Guinea Savannah


Kainji National Park

(Borgu Sector)

Kainji National Park

(Zugurma Sector)

532,000 ha

Niger State

Guinea Savannah


Old Oyo National Park

253,000 ha

Oyo State

Dry Forest/G. Savannah


Okomu National Park

200 ha

Edo State

Lowland Rainforest


Cross River National Park

(Oban Division)

Cross River National Park

(Okwango Division)

400,000 ha

Cross River State

Lowland Rainforest


Gashaka Gumti National Park

6,402,480 ha

Taraba State

Guinea S/ Montane


Chad Basin National Park

(Hadejia Nguru Wetlands/ oasis Sector)

Chad Basin National Park (Sambisa Sector)

Chad Basin National Park (Chingurme-Duguma Sector)

230,000 ha

Borno State

Sahel Savannah

The total area of land under national parks is about 2.4 million hectares.

Nigeria’s present network of protected areas includes a biosphere reserve, 7 national parks, 445 forest reserve, 12 strict nature reserves and 28 game reserves. Other sanctuaries and game reserves which are to be conserved have been proposed. These game reserves were meant to conserve wildlife and to supplement protein from domestic sources. Species that had priority for conservation then were identified to include chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), ostrich (Strutio camelopedalus), Black Rhinoceros (Diceros biocornis), Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), Pigmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis) and water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus). There is evidence that some of these have since become extinct and there is need for the a new survey of species to determine their present status.

i. Population Pressure:
As already indicated, the population of Nigeria is expected to increase to about 150 million by 2011. This will result in increased demand for natural resources thereby posing threats to biodiversity. With increase in population and consequent increase in demand for biodiversity resources, natural habitats are being destroyed for plantation establishment, irrigation, urbanization, roads, food and livestock production, and non-timber forest resources utilization. Threat to wildlife due to unsustainable hunting.
Large areas of natural forests are being exploited for tree species such as the mahoganies, Nauclea diderrichii (opepe), Terminalia ivorensis (Odigbo), Terminalia superba (Afara), Triplochiton sceleroxylon (Obeche) and others known in international market. High intensity of logging and illegal exploitation of these and other species has continued to pose serious threats to the country’s forest resources.
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are used for food, medicines, oil, resin, tannin, household equipment, fuel wood and furniture and building materials. The subsistence rural dwellers have continued to exploit these products for income generation. NTFPs varieties of other economic uses include the rattan cane (Laccosperma sedndiflora), chewing sticks (Garcinia manii), wrapping leaves such as Thaumatococcus danielli which also produces fruits that are sweeter than sugar. Triplochiton sceleroxylon is known to be the host of the larvae of Enaphae venata a moth species which apart from producing cocoons that are good material for local silk (“Sanyan”) they are also good sources of animal protein to both the urban poor and rural dwellers.
There has been a trend of increasing use of medicinal plants amongst both urban and rural dwellers. This trend has grave consequences on the survival of some plant species. This is because of the unsustainable manner in which many species are harvested. Furthermore, the downturn in the economy and inflationary trend has led to the excessive harvesting of non-timber forest products to various uses. Some of these species are now threatened. Examples are Hymenocardia acida, Kigelia Africana and Cassia nigricans (Table 3).

Cheetah, Acinomyxjubalus






Milicea excelsia



Diospyros elliotii



Triplochiduiton scleroxylon



Mansoiea altissinia



Masilania accuminata

Chewing stick


Carcina manni

Chewing stick


Oucunbaca aubrevillei


Almost Extinct

Erythrina senegalensis



Cassia nigricans



Nigella sativa



Hymenocardia acida



Kigelia africana




Crocodylus niloticus



Osteolaemus tetraspis



Struthio camelus



Psittacus erithacus



Cercopithecus erythrogaster



Loxodonta africana



Trichecus senegalensis



Giraffa camelopedalus



Python sabae



Gazella dorcas



ii. Agriculture and Habitat destruction:

Agriculture in Nigeria is largely based on traditional technology. Shifting cultivation remains a major farming system among the peasant farmers who produce over 90 per cent of total food supplies. The farming method is a primary cause of habitat destruction. This is because it is characterized by vegetation destruction short fallow periods and unequal access to farmland.

The establishment large scale plantations of cash crops as well as indiscriminate bush burning and overgrazing also lead to habitat destruction for indigenous species of plants and animals occurring in narrow ecological ranges. The area devoted to grazing in the country rose from 166,326 km2 in 1978 to 187,236 km2 in 1995. Because most of the cattle are concentrated in the semi-arid zones that support 90% of cattle, the area is subjected to overgrazing, indiscriminate bush burning and shortage of fodder.

iii. Genetic Erosion:

A substantial loss of species diversity (intra and infra-specific) is due to habitat destruction resulting from land clearance for various uses. Forest exploitation vegetation clearance, dam construction and oil spill are the major causes of natural gene-pool loss as is occurring in many species including Irvingia gobonensis and I. wombulu in the rainforest and Niger Delta. Most species that were originally common in Nigeria are becoming rare.

The use of only improved varieties of crops and the complete neglect of local varieties and the land races also lead to loss of biodiversity. A major example of this is the use of improved okra (Abelmoscus esculentus) in place of the native materials of the tall okra. (A. caillei) that is popularly known to be sensitive to day-length. Local varieties including sword bean (Canavalia ensiformis), African yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocaarpa) and Lima beans (Phasceolus lunatus) are now becoming extremely rare, as only improved cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is being cultivated in many farms.
Similarly, Dioscorea dumetorum, Dioscorea bulbifera, Trichosanthis species (Snake tomato), and Digitaria exilis (Hungry rice ‘acha’) are no longer in popular cultivation. Restricted planting of many other popular crops have also been reduced and they have been replaced with commercially improved varieties, thereby causing the loss of important gene resources of these plants.
Grazing pressure, fire, and excessive use of systemic herbicides, including pollution are other factors that affect biodiversity loss. Fire destroys large areas of forest ecosystems annually with the elimination of sensitive species such as Afromosia laxiflora, Ceoba pentandra, Entada abyssinica, Hildegardia barteri and Holarrhera wulfbergia. Although, fire is a natural phenomenon in the savanna, it is steadily entering the rainforest.

Indiscriminate hunting of wildlife for food to compliment subsistence farming and bush burning leads to loss of biodiversity and also depletes the ecosystem by causing death of wildlife; destruction of eggs and plant species, while illegal grazing of livestock in game reserves constitutes a threat to wildlife itself.

Kola nuts
iv. Causes of Biodiversity Loss:

Available evidence shows that biodiversity is being lost at a disturbing rate in Nigeria. The causes of biodiversity loss are largely related to human factors. These are due to interaction with the environment for development, improved quality of life resulting from industrialization, technological advancement and rapid growth in urbanization.

The direct causes of biodiversity loss in Nigeria include the following economic policies, rising demand for forest products, cultural practices, poor law enforcement and weak laws. Factors such as rapid urbanization have collectively increased deforestation and biodiversity loss. For example, increased export demands for primates and birds for research and trade in timber and non-timber species are indirect causes of biodiversity loss in various parts of the country. Low budgetary allocation to the forestry sub-sector has curtailed national efforts to reforest large areas that have been deforested. Consequently, the allowable timber cuts are not replaced hence sustained yield of the forests cannot be attained. Continued timber cut without replacement indirectly leads to biodiversity loss.
Cultural practices that encourage the use of specific species for festivals often limit the population of species particularly occurring under narrow ecological range. Moreover, most of the laws that control the management of several species are outdated and their enforcement is inadequate. The consequence is over exploitation of resources and subsequent loss of biodiversity.
Direct causes of biodiversity loss are related to agricultural activities, bush burning, fuel-wood collection, logging, grazing and gathering. The introduction of cash crops like cocoa, coffee, rubber, cotton, groundnut and oil palm into the farming systems since the 1900s was a big impetus for massive deforestation of the natural ecosystems. For example, the land devoted to agriculture increased from 8.9 million hectares in 1951 to about 55.8 million hectares in 1995. The massive rate of deforestation is a direct cause of biodiversity loss.
Wood accounts for about 85% of domestic energy use in the country. Preference is often given to wood species with high calorific values that occur largely in the savannah and rainforest ecosystems of the country. Thus high depletion of fuel-wood species is easily noticeable in the savannah and rainforest ecosystems.

2.1 Summary of the Plan:
Nigeria started the process of preparing its own Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) in 1995. The World Bank funded it as part of an Environmental Management Programme. The current draft is a result of a series of consultation with stakeholders through workshops at national and zonal levels.
The goal of the plan is to conserve and enhance the sustainable use of the nation's biodiversity and to integrate biodiversity-planning considerations into national policy and decision-making. It identified the biggest threat to conservation of biological diversity as poverty.
In the plan emphasis is placed on in situ conservation through protected areas such as Forest Reserves, Game Reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Priority attention is placed on conservation of samples of ecological characteristics (montane, mangrove wetland and rain forest, and endemic species across the country.
The NBSAP also contains specific priority actions for ex situ conservation of various species of plants and animals of distance economic importance, including the re-introduction or rehabilitation of endangered species of plants and animals and the conservation of threatened and endangered species. The administrative and policy reforms contained in the plan provide a vehicle for achieving its conservation goal and objective. It emphasizes the values inherent in individual, community and NGOs activities in Nigeria.
Finally, the Action Plan makes concrete provision for a programme of research, extension and education that will enhance the sustainable development of Nigeria's new legal instruments, institutional collaboration and responsive financial mechanism.
(i) Sustainable use of components of biological diversity especially the aspects concerning the protection and encouragement of customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation and sustainable use requirements (Article 10);
(ii) Incentive measures for the conservation and sustainable use of components of biological diversity (Article II);
(iii) Access to genetic resources (Article 15);

(iv) Access to and transfer to technology (Article16; and

(v) Handing of biotechnology and distribution of its benefits (Article 19).

Some of Objectives of the NBSAP have been integrated into programs and some levels achieved through the following means:

i. Policy Frame work:

The national policy on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity is an integral part of the national policy on environment. The national policy on environment which was reviewed in 2006/7 further strengthened the biodiversity conservation. The policy was first developed in 1989 following the promulgation of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) decree no 58 of 1988 and revised in 1999. The decree provides the legal framework for the implementation of the policies on environmental protection, natural resources conservation and sustainable development. The 1999 National Policy on Conservation of Biological diversity is aimed at:

  1. integrating Biological Diversity considerations into national planning, policy and decision making and

  2. conserving and enhancing the sustainable use of the nation’s biological diversity.

With the creation of the Federal Ministry of Environment (FME) in 1999, FEPA was absorbed and the Ministry became the highest policy making body responsible for addressing environmental issues in Nigeria, including conservation of biodiversity.

In pursuit of the policy objectives as enunciated, an overriding concern is to alleviate poverty and increase the per capita income of Nigerians. Consequently, the country has developed strategies and programmes for sound and sustainable management of biodiversity involving the most vulnerable groups particularly women and children. The strategies have been designed to promote sustainable and adequate levels of funding and focus on integrated human development programme, including income generation, increased local control of resources, strengthening of local institutions and capacity building including greater involvement of community based and non-governmental organizations, as well as the lower tiers of government as delivery mechanisms.

The achievement of some of the above strategies has been through the intervention project known as Local Empowerment and Environmental management program(LEEMP); its for the empowerment of rural populace while protecting the environment.

There is 2006 National Forestry Policy and 206 Biosafety Policy to give guidance for the protection and conservation of Biodiversity in the Country.

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