1.1 Background of the Study
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. Depending on various cultural definitions, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have different classifications according to how and of what the forest is composed (Lund, 2006). Forests can be classified in different ways and to different degrees of specificity. One such way is in terms of the “biome” in which they exist, combined with leaf longevity of the dominant species (whether they are evergreen or deciduous). Another distinction is whether the forests are composed predominantly of broadleaf trees, coniferous (needle-leaved) trees, or mixed.
The contribution of forests to sustainable livelihood of the rural farmers around the world is immeasurable including the wood and non-wood forest resources. Forests which include all resources that can produce forest products namely woodland, scrubland, bush fallow and farm bush and trees on farms, as well as ecosystem dominated by trees (Arnold,1998), provide households with income, ensure food security, reduce their vulnerability to shocks and adversities and increase their well being. Research on non-farm rural employment and income as a whole has shown that small scale production and trading activities in forest products constitute one of the largest parts of rural non-farm enterprise employment (Liedholm & Mead 1993). It is in acknowledgement of the importance of forests for livelihood and environmental stability that its conservation is included in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. In Nigeria, poverty has led to the dependence of over 90% of the rural population on forests for some livelihoods and economic survival (UN, 2002).
Among the products obtained from forests are those classified as wood forest products and non-wood forests products (NWFPs). Non-wood forests products consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooden land and trees outside forests (FAO, 1999). The United Kingdom‘s Forestry Commission defines non-wood forest product (NTFPs) as “any biological resource found in woodlands except wood (timber and other forms of wood), United Kingdom Forest Research (UFR, 2013). Part of the reforesting Scotland project, defines them as “materials supplied by woodlands – except the conventional harvest of wood, Scotland Forest Harvest (SFH, 2013). These definitions include wild and managed game, fish and insects, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, 2013). When wood other than timber is included it is referred to as non- timber forests products (NTFPs). Generally NWFPs are grouped into: sponges, chewing sticks, tooth cleaners, fibers, bast fibers, jute, cloth, foodstuffs, water, beverage, wine, medicinal plants, latex, rubbers, gums and resins, and decorative beads (Wyatt, 1991). Furthermore, a large portion of NWFPs have medicinal properties. For at least three quarters of the world’s population, traditional medicine is the only source of medicinal treatment (70-80% in Africa) (Van Rijsoort & De pater, 2000). On the use of NWFPs in meals, observation of household in Western Burkina Faso identified that some thirty NWFPs were used, raw or cooked, and that they came from17 tree species of the savanna or traditional forestry parklands (Lamien & Bayala, 1996). This study will focus on flora(plant) and fauna(animal) species of non-wood forest products. Some of the plant species of NWFPs found in Nigeria, according to Osemeobo and Ujor(1999) include Gnetum africanum , Gongronema latifolium, pterocarpus soyauxii, Ocimum gratisimum, Treculia Africana, Irvingia gabonensis, Dennettia tripetala, chrysophyllum albidium (white straw apple) , piper guineense, Afromomum spp and Garcinia kola. Fauna species include snails, bee product (honey), grass cutter etc.
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