Biodiversity Conservation and Unmet Social and Health Needs in the Rural Communities of Niger State, Nigeria

Biodiversity Conservation and Unmet Social and Health Needs in the Rural Communities of Niger State, Nigeria

Lawal Musediq Olufemi, Irhue Young Kenneth
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7158-2.ch002
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The establishment that 70% of the world's poor residing in rural areas depends directly on biodiversity for their well-being has ignited the call for sustainable usage of biological resources. Biodiversity conservation has thus become a novel project with noble intention of providing a habitat and protection from hunting for threatened and endangered species and ecological processes that cannot survive in most intensely managed landscapes. Nigeria has created protected areas under the coordination of National Park Services in line with this. As a result, residents of communities surrounding the protected areas could not meet their basic needs like employment, water provision, educational facilities, medical services, energy supply, livestock grazing, and motorable roads. They have subsequently deviated from the extant rules that guide their conducts and by ensuing difficulties see biodiversity conservation as an elitist policy despite their understanding of the idea behind it.
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Background And Statement Of Problem

Biodiversity, which implies then variety of all forms of life, from genes and species to ecosystem remains the living natural heritage to all. Biodiversity is crucial to the reduction of poverty, due to the basic goods and ecosystem services it provides. Globally, some 2.6 billion people worldwide draw their livelihoods either partially or fully from agriculture. More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, while over 1.6 billion rely on forests and non-timber forest products (CBD, 2016). Human societies have always relied on biological resources for physical and spiritual sustenance. Biodiversity ultimately provides people with a source of food, medicines, materials and opportunities. Indigenous peoples in common like every other individual have a right to derive a means of existence from the sustainable use of biological resources found within territorial borders according to cultural practices (Schnierer, 2002). This right is based on the long and close association between indigenous peoples and their traditional biological resources developed and, in many cases, maintained over thousands of years. This interdependence has created the diversity of cultures we see today and the diversity within biological systems commonly referred to as biodiversity. It is no small coincidence that the majority of the worlds remaining biodiversity reside in indigenous territories (Taylor et al., 2012). Around the world, human activities are taking a heavy toll on wild nature. Unsustainable agriculture, unregulated extractive industries, creeping urbanization, rampant coastal development and rapacious over-fishing are fragmenting and destroying natural environments (Rodney, 2012; Allen, 2011).

Loss of biodiversity thus poses a significant threat to their livelihoods. Biodiversity must therefore be protected and sustainably used for achieving poverty reduction and sustainable development (CBD, n.d.). In view of this, the fact still remains that conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the eradication of extreme poverty are two of the main global challenges of our time. It has been recognized by the international community that these two challenges are intimately connected and require a coordinated response. The protection of biodiversity is essential in the fight to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development most especially on the basis that 70% of the world’s poor residing in rural areas depends directly on biodiversity for their survival and well-being. Meanwhile, failure to ensure sustainable use of biodiversity usually leads to environmental degradation (Sellars, 2009; Schnierer, 2002). The realization that many species within biodiversity system are getting depleted in the growing years has led to the setting up of regions to protect these species, landscapes, wild animals and their habitats by many countries. This concern for the loss of biodiversity increased in the early 1900s, and the international recognition of protected areas as a tool for conservation gained prominence in the 1950s.

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