BINARY ESTIMATION OF FACTORS INFLUENCING RURAL HOUSEHOLDS’ INVOLVEMENT IN FOREST PRODUCTS HARVESTING IN ABIA STATE, NIGERIA
Keywords:Rural households, community, forest products, degradation, rural livelihood.
The study examined factors influencing rural farm households’ involvement in forest product harvesting for livelihood in Abia State. Through multistage sampling, 180 rural household heads were selected as respondents. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistical tools such as Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and binary probit model analysis. The results of the study showed that 79.4% of the sampled households’ heads were involved in forest product harvesting. Forest products derived as benefits from the forest in the area include firewood, forest leaves, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, forage for livestock and bush meat among others. Forest resources contribute 31.4% to total rural households’ income, while the contributions of agriculture and off-farm income to total household income were 57% and 11.8% respectively. The result of the binary probit model showed an R2 value of (0.864) which was good. Gender, education, household size, nativity of household head, primary occupation, income and the number of dependent household members significantly influenced household heads’ involvement in forest products harvesting. Perceived effects of unrestricted forest products harvesting include loss of biodiversity (3.49), disruption of the water cycle and ecosystem (3.36), increased soil erosion and flooding (3.84), global warming and climate change (3.57), loss of vital forest products (3.44) among others. The study recommended an improved standard of living for families in rural areas through relevant government projects to reduce the current pressure and high dependency on forest bodies.