Fuelwood and vegetation change in Northern Nigeria
: an exploration using remote sensing (RS), geographical information systems (GIS) and field reports

  • Ali Ibrahim Naibbi

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Forest is one of the natural resources that are facing a serious threat in the world today. Overexploitation of forest resources for timber, fuelwood and agricultural land is increasing faster, to the extent that the future prospects for most forest in the world are open to question. While there are various reasons responsible for the decline in vegetation, this study explores the situation of the Northern Nigerian region arid zone forest by studying the changing pattern of vegetation in relation to the cooking fuel situation in the region using both national and regional statistics and a local area case study. The study uses multiple methodologies (Remote Sensing, Geographical Information Systems and a local survey using household survey, focus group discussion and participant observation) to examine various aspects of the overall problem at different geographical scales. The combined methods serve as a triangulation strategy to identify causal linkages between changes in forest cover, fuelwood consumption and cooking fuel supply problems in the region. Past studies have used some of the methodologies, singly or in combination. However, no previous study has utilised the full range of methodologies listed above to examine the fuelwood problem across all scales from the national to local level, which is a contribution to knowledge that this present study offers.

    The study commences by using a time series analysis of Landsat satellite images of the North-Eastern part of Nigeria (NEN), covering a period of about three decades, using the technique of Remote Sensing (RGB-NDVI model), with a view to identifying areas where deforestation is evident in the vegetated areas of the region. The results indicate that the vegetation of the area has drastically reduced since 1970s. However, both the pattern and causes of the observed change were non-linear. Similarly, evidence from ground truthing investigation has shown that fuelwood collection is among the major factors of deforestation in the region, mainly due to lack of alternative energy sources in the region.

    This initiated a wider national exploration of fossil fuel supply and consumption in the country, with a view to examining whether there are any spatial patterns of such inequalities amongst households across the 36 states of Nigeria (and Abuja the capital city). Spatial analysis of the distribution and consumption of cooking fuel is conducted using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The results show that fossil fuel supply is precarious in the country. The majority of the northern states are deprived of sufficient fossil fuel supply, and this is closely correlated with their dependence on traditional fuels (fuelwood), leading to considerable pressure on the region’s scarce vegetation resources.

    Further investigation of the national findings relating to fossil fuel supply is undertaken using a local survey, which explores the pattern of household fuel consumption and commercial fuelwood activities in some selected areas of North-Eastern Nigeria. The results also reveal that there are some local inequalities in the choice of cooking fuel among households (in favour of fuelwood), which is related to the unreliability in the supply of fossil fuel in the region (cooking fuel poverty). This has paved the way for the expansion of organised commercial fuelwood vending in the region to supply households with fuelwood.
    Date of AwardJun 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRichard Healey (Supervisor), Peter Collier (Supervisor) & Brian Baily (Supervisor)

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