Biodiversity and carbon potentials of a Nigerian forest reserve: insights from the Niger basin.
Forest reserves are expected to host a wide array of biodiversity and provide refuge for rare species that may be threatened in nearby forest landscapes. While this is the guiding protocol for most reserves across the tropics, such as Nigeria, the extent to which they host biodiversity and act as potential stores for carbon are quite uncertain. This study used a four hectare randomly selected forest plots to verify the biodiversity of the reserve, its stand structure and potentials for carbon storage. Species importance value was used to summarize the composition of the landscape. Both the diversity (mean diversity=0.85) and species richness (eleven species) were low. Biodiversity in the area was quite poor and was mostly composed of Elaeis guineensis and Gmelina arborea, which had relative densities of 74.6% and 11.96%, respectively. Over exploitation and preference for fast-growing exotic species explained the poor stand structure and composition of the landscape, respectively. Very few tree stands were found in the mature structural class, and its capacity to facilitate regeneration and resilience seemed low. Its ability to store carbon in its biomass is equally low; since the forest landscape was much degraded. Maximizing the vast land of the reserve for targeted carbon storage (through mass tree planting) is a potential step that could forestall carbon sequestration across the region, especially because, such vast and available (forest) land cannot be guaranteed in most other forest landscapes.