The study was an empirical analysis of the Effects of Socio-Economic Characteristics on forestland conversion in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State. It described the agricultural activities of male and female farmers, problems encountered by both genders during the course of agricultural activities which may be socio-economic dependent. These socio-economic characteristics were identified, examined and linked to their marginal effect on forest neighbourhood. Two hypotheses were formulated to unravel the complexities of these relationships and for better understanding of their effect on the forest environment. Data were collected from the three development councils of the Local Government Area and a total of 160 respondents from the study area were chosen. Their responses were analysed using descriptive statistics, multiple regression, and t-test statistics. The study observed that the agricultural activities in the study area were irrespective of gender. The study further found out that some socio-economic characteristics of the male gender were statistically significant in relation to forestland conversion. None of the female gender socio-economic characteristics was statistically significant. The mean conversion for both genders was insignificant when tested for equality. The study also, found out that ownership of forestland does not influence its management in the study area. Based on these findings, the study concluded that agricultural activities which led to alteration of the forest environment could be more male dependent. Policies which could address the male socio-economic characteristics could have far reaching effect in the stepwise and sustainable utilization of the forest resources in the study area. The study therefore recommended programmes, guidelines and constructs which should aim at addressing the socio-economic characteristics of both genders which should have an ameliorating effect on the forest neighbourhood. It specifically recommends that addressing pronatalists issues of unnecessary increment of family size as a tool for agricultural activities without resounding benefits. Also, efficient institutional constructs (land tenure laws) which could define and allot forest ownership pattern should be enacted in the study area. Creation of jobs, diversification of these jobs and sustainable investments could save our forest and the environments for the benefits of the present and posterity.

1.0     Background Information
The usefulness of forest in economic development and environmental sustainability is not in doubt. Forest environment and diversity of life, which they harbour, represent an irreplaceable asset to the biosphere and mankind. Ecologically, their function is unquestionable as they provide two-thirds of net primary productivity of all terrestrial ecosystems, of which our priceless tropical forests account for about sixty percent (Umaru, 2005). Also, they serve as natural habitat for a sizeable chunk of world’s plant and animal species, thus providing the basis for biological diversity, which is crucial for the biosphere’s continuity. Forests provide a home for wild animals such as elephants, monkeys, antelopes, and snakes, which are hunted for food, income and revenue when conserved in reserves.

Economically, logging (lumbering) of forest hard wood for hard currencies, fuel wood gathering, and security for the poor rural population when crop fails or, as an income supplement during the lean farming periods are essential provisions of the forest. Furthermore, all these incalculable activities provide about eighty six percent employment opportunities in rural areas of Enugu State (Enugu State Government and DFID, 2003). This obviously is well acknowledged especially in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of the State, which is commonly known for its farming activities. Hence, the inhabitants are often called the “Uzegus” meaning literally farmers.

Agriculturally, forest leaves and branches of trees cover the top soil, thereby intercepting heavy down pours of rainfall or high velocity moving wind which would have eroded the soil, thus rendering it less fertile and less productive. Furthermore, dead and decaying portions of forest trees improve the soil texture and structure, hence, increasing water infiltration capacity of the soil. Nutrient recycling ability of the forest trees is also worthwhile. It increases organic and mineral matter of the soil without any adverse effect on the ecosystem. Its mineralization capacity, which makes nutrients available, which would have been permanently, lost is quite fascinating (Okonkwo, 1996). Forest trees bind soil particles together thereby enhancing stability of the structure and porosity for effective microbial activities.

The influential property of the forest in microclimate moderation cannot be over-emphasized. It regulates temperature and humidity thereby causing precipitations. Precisely, forest crowns intercept moisture laden winds causing them to rise up, whichwhen cooling down, induces rainfall. Furthermore, cloud formation through transpiration of forest trees is an essential function of these elements.

The earth’s reflectivity (albedo) is enhanced by forest cover Ebo, Okoye and Ayichi (2002) maintained that forest trees manage and protect water sheds which have cooling effects on neigbourhood. Thus, maintenance of hydrological cycle is an essential function of the forest especially in regions characterized with irregular or seasonal variation of rainfall (Umaru, 2005).

Again, the pharmacopoeia veritable of the forest resources cannot be under-estimated (Miller, 1990). Tropical plants provide essential medicine, and genes from forest biodiversity necessary for breeding improved crop varieties and other medications. Also, half of the worlds prescribed medicine has their origin in wildlife species (Salau, 1992).

The atmospheric purification has lime lighted the crucial importance of the forest in controlling air pollution. The forest biosphere is next biggest sink for atmospheric carbon, hence, the sequestering of atmospheric carbon pollutants by the forest trees is overwhelming (Oyebo, 2002; Umaru, 2005). Thus, this sequestering ability has been the basis advocated for reducing greenhouse effect, and an ultimate clamp down on global warming.

Furthermore, the aesthetic and cultural significance of the forest environment is worth noting. Their values are intangible but real. This non-use value aspect of forest environment is unhidden as people sentimentally disprove its destruction even if they are unlikely to visit the environment.

Despite all these appreciable benefits and unquantifiable resources of forest to mankind, the breaching of forest mantle to make way for systematic agriculture, human settlements, among others have drastically reduced the size of forest and its resources at an alarming rate.

According to a study carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the world lost 450 million hectares of its tropical cover between 1960 and 1990. This is mainly in Latin America and Africa where about 8.2 million and 5 million hectares respectively are annually deforested (Burgess, 1993). Deforestation is mainly the tragedy of the developing worlds as more developed countries (MDCs) are gaining access to replaced forests (Butler, 2005). Pathetically, deforest rated regions do not regain their original splendour especially in the harsh humid climates.....

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