Author (s): Babagana Gutti, Mohammed m. Aji, Garba magaji
Affiliated organization : University of Maidugury
Type of publication : Research Article
Date of publication : 2012
Exploitation of natural resources is an essential condition of human existence, throughout the history of mankind; humans have manipulated natural resources to produce the materials they needed to sustain growing human populations. This refers primarily for food production and economic development but many other entities from the natural environment have been extracted.
In the struggle for survival and development man creates a lot of negative impacts on the environment, these impacts ranges from over-exploitation of resources, destruction of ecosystem and pollution. Often the exploitation of nature has been done in a non-sustainable way, which is causing an increasing concern, as the non-sustainable exploitation of natural resources ultimately threatens the human existence. One difficult task faced by both developed and developing countries is to guarantee the lasting utilization of natural resources at the lowest possible environmental cost, while still assuring the economic and social development.
Nigeria with its large population and poor economic foundation is engaged in a process of increased urbanization. The traditional mode of resource consuming, development and the current inefficient economy are severely threatening the lasting utilization of natural resources. The rate at which forests are destroyed in the name of furniture making, pulp and paper production and as a source of domestic energy is at alarming rate. Some trends and problems of exploitation of natural resources include; specie extinctions, oil spillage, gas flaring, deforestation, soil erosion, coastal degradation, ozone depletion, ground water contamination among other things.
Impact of deforestation
In 1975 the total area of forest of all types in the country was estimated at about 360,000 square kilometer or about one third of the country land area. It was also estimated that annual harvest of sawn timber from high forest was about 1.5 million cubic metre which would take between 25 to 30 years to denude the forest of matured timber, with rapid rise in domestic consumption of timber due to increased rate of building construction resulting from rise in population and urbanization. It will take less than 15 years to exhaust the forest of timber resources. Deforestation is a process whereby trees are felled for several purposes but without replanting to replace the ones felled.
One difficult task faced by both developed and developing countries is to guarantee the lasting utilization of natural resources at the lowest possible environmental cost, while still assuring the economic and social development
Deforestation is a serious problem in Nigeria with forest loss occurring at rate of 3.3% per year since 1990, the country has loss over 36% of its forest cover. The most biodiversity ecosystem, the old-growth forests are disappearing at an even faster rate between 1990 and 2005, 79% of the primary forest were lost and since 2000, Nigeria has been losing an average of 11% of its primary forest each year, these figures give Nigeria the highest deforestation rate of natural forest in the world.
Impact of mining on the physical environment
In Africa, the mining sector is thought to be the second largest source of pollution after agriculture; the sector is resource intensive and generates high concentrations of waste and effluents.
Mining is a common practice in Nigeria, the problem with the activity in the country, however, is the inattention of the miners and the government to proper mining practices which makes life difficult for the people. And many people because of their low level of education do not know their environmental obligations under the Minerals and Mining Act, and that the adherence to best global practices in mining is a vital tool for the promotion of sustainable growth in the industry.
Impact of petroleum exploration
Nigeria like most other developing countries in early part of the 70’s was engaged in intensive natural resource exploitation as a way of stimulating economic growth, as at 1976 about 20 years after the start of oil exploration, figures available from federal office of statistics stated that oil has come to account for about 84% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria, 95% of the total export and over 80% of government annual revenue. There is no doubt that the Nigerian oil industry has affected the country in a variety of ways at the same time. On one hand it has fashioned a remarkable economic development for the country, however on the negative side petroleum exploration have adverse effects on the environment of the host communities like: oil spills, extensive deforestation, loss of farms, loss of soil fertility, erosion, gas flaring, intensive exploitation, contamination of streams and rivers, effluent discharge and disposal, conflict between oil companies and host communities.
The department of petroleum resources estimated 1.89 million barrels of petroleum were spilled into Niger delta between 1976 and 1996 out of a total of 2.4 million barrels spilled in 4,835 incidents.
Deforestation is a serious problem in Nigeria with forest loss occurring at rate of 3.3% per year since 1990, the country has loss over 36% of its forest cover
Considering the possibility of environmental incidents arising from deliberate acts of sabotage, extensive contamination of soil and water is to be expected. With frequent rains and a high water table, the oil contamination could have been carried further down the delta through the creeks contaminating surface water and river sediments. The contamination of soil, surface water and ground water in turn would have adverse socio-economic impacts on agriculture and fisheries.
The way forward
Sustainable development is a dynamic process and it necessitates continual adjustments to cope with changes in the economy and the environment. It is recommended that to ensure environmental sustainability and sustainable development in the exploitation of natural resources, the concept of material stewardship should be adopted and implemented.
To encourage study and adapt techniques for risk assessment, resource pricing and exploitation which are favorable to the environment. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be well documented, guide lines for implementation should be put in place and undertake monitoring and evaluation of environmental degradation and carryout environmental reports so that natural resource exploitation bodies should carry out mandatory precaution, remedies or compensation for damage done.
To establish a system for continuous monitoring of natural resources by the government and social groups in order to encourage public participation in the activities aimed at sustainable development of natural resources like: recycling, waste reduction, afforestation, pollution control, bioremediation and game reserves, and to set up a mechanism for coordination or elimination of discrepancies arising during the implementation of some policies related to utilization of natural resources and provide appropriate sanctions.
Extraction, exploration and exploitation of natural resources are the backbone of the national economy. However, the great danger posed by natural resources exploitation is a problem; factors such as economic development, population growth and urbanization invariably place greater demands on the planet and stretch the use of natural resources to the maximum. Use of the natural resources at a rate higher than nature’s capacity to restore itself can result to environmental degradation, ecological disturbances, destruction of natural flora and fauna, pollution, global warming and desertification.
Encourage public participation in the activities aimed at sustainable development of natural resources like: recycling, waste reduction, afforestation, pollution control, bioremediation and game reserves
Everything on our planet are interconnected and while the nature supplies us with valuable environmental services without which we cannot exist, we all depends on each other’s actions and the way we treat our natural resources. It’s widely recognized that we are overspending our natural resources. Perhaps, we should adopt a holistic view of nature that it is not an entity that exists differently from us, we are an inalienable part of it and we should care for it in the most appropriate manner by development of effective strategies, policy formulation, sustainability and plans to maintain the balance between resource usage and conservation, only then can we possibly solve the environmental problems.
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