RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC ON EFFECT OF FOREST RESOURCES EXPLOITATION ON ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF FARMING HOUSE
The importance of forest resources/products in supporting rural livelihoods, reducing hunger and poverty cannot be overemphasized. Apart from meeting the economic needs of rural people for food and shelter, tropical forests are also a major source of both industrial wood products and fuel wood. It, therefore, becomes pertinent to examine the implication of forest resources exploitation on the rural agro-economy in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria. Specifically, it ascertained the proportion of household income contributed by forest products exploitation, identified factors that affect exploitation of major forest products, ascertained the effects/implications of forest resources exploitation on the rural agro-economy, and determined the factors influencing income from forest resources exploitation/harvesting. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used in selecting the respondents used for the study. The data collected using structured questionnaire administered to the respondents were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistical tools such as means, frequency tables, percentages and ordinary least square regression technique. Results of data analysis showed that 26% of total household income is contributed by forest resources. The factors affecting the exploitation of forest resources as identified by the rural households were deforestation, bush burning, urbanization, land degradation/erosion, losses due to bad market, high transportation cost, community laws, land ownership, among others. Among the positive implications of forest exploitation was its contribution to income and its associated reduction of poverty and hunger, and the creation of employment while the negative implications of forest resources exploitation were depletion of the resource base, erosion, contribution climate change and leading to the extinction of indigenous forest species. The significant variables influencing income were the age of the respondents, household size, number of resources harvested and farming experience. It was recommended that policies aimed at sustainability to manage the forest in a manner that would allow for sustainable utilization of the natural resource base for the benefit of present and future generations should be put in place.