As environmentalists focus on the International Year of Forests, there has been much attention on destructive logging in Africa’s rain-forests, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Deforestation is a process where vegetation is cut down without any simultaneous replanting for economic or social reasons. Deforestation has negative implications on the environment in terms of wildlife and increased desertification among many other reasons. According to data taken over a five year period from 2000 to 2005, Nigeria has the largest desertification rates in the world with loss of 55.7% of its primary forest.

The annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria is approximately 3.5% which is between 350,000 and 400,000 hectares per year. In Nigeria forest has been cleared for logging, timber export, subsistence agriculture and notably the collection of wood for fuel which remains problematic in West Africa. A lot of damage has been done to Nigeria’s land through the process of deforestation, notably contributing to the overwhelming trend of desertification.

Desertification is the encroachment of the desert on land that was once fertile. A study conducted from 1901 to 2005 gathered that there was a temperature increase in Nigeria of 1.1°C, while the global mean temperature increase was only 0.74°C. The same study also found in the same period of time that the amount of rainfall has decreased from by 81mm. it was noticed that both trends simultaneously had sharp changes in the 1970. From 1990 to 2010 Nigeria nearly halved their amount of forest cover moving from 17234 to 9,041 hectares.

The combination of extremely high deforestation rates, increased temperature and decreasing rainfall are all contributing to desertification in the country.

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