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Assessing changes in the value of ecosystem services in response to land-use/land-cover dynamics in Nigeria

Arowolo, Aisha Olushola, Deng, Xiangzheng, Olatunji, Olusanya Abiodun, Obayelu, Abiodun Elijah
The Science of the total environment 2018 v.636 pp. 597-609
climate, climate change, disasters, ecological function, ecological value, ecosystem services, ecosystems, financial economics, forests, humans, land cover, land use and land cover maps, land use change, recreation, savannas, Nigeria
Increasing human activities worldwide have significantly altered the natural ecosystems and consequently, the services they provide. This is no exception in Nigeria, where land-use/land-cover has undergone a series of dramatic changes over the years mainly due to the ever-growing large population. However, estimating the impact of such changes on a wide range of ecosystem services is seldom attempted. Thus, on the basis of GlobeLand30 land-cover maps for 2000 and 2010 and using the value transfer methodology, we evaluated changes in the value of ecosystem services in response to land-use/land-cover dynamics in Nigeria. The results showed that over the 10-year period, cultivated land sprawl over the forests and savannahs was predominant, and occurred mainly in the northern region of the country. During this period, we calculated an increase in the total ecosystem services value (ESV) in Nigeria from 665.93 billion (2007 US$) in 2000 to 667.44 billion (2007 US$) in 2010, 97.38% of which was contributed by cultivated land. The value of provisioning services increased while regulation, support, recreation and culture services decreased, amongst which, water regulation (−11.01%), gas regulation (−7.13%), cultural (−4.84%) and climate regulation (−4.3%) ecosystem functions are estimated as the most impacted. The increase in the total ESV in Nigeria associated with the huge increase in ecosystem services due to cultivated land expansion may make land-use changes (i.e. the ever-increasing agricultural expansion in Nigeria) appear economically profitable. However, continuous loss of services such as climate and water regulation that are largely provided by the natural ecosystems can result in huge economic losses that may exceed the apparent gains from cultivated land development. Therefore, we advocate that the conservation of the natural ecosystem should be a priority in future land-use management in Nigeria, a country highly vulnerable to climate change and incessantly impacted by natural disasters such as flooding.