Isaac Adelakun Gbiri and Nathaniel Olugbade Adeoye
Forest Reserves in Southwestern Nigeria have been threatened by urbanization and anthropogenic activities and the rate of deforestation is not known. This study examined the vegetation characteristics of Akure Forest Reserve using optical remote sensing data. It also assessed the changing pattern in the forest reserve between 1986 and 2017. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver was used to capture the location of the prominent settlements that surrounded the Forest Reserve in order to evaluate their effects on the forest. Landsat TM 1986, Landsat ETM+ 2002 and Landsat OLI_TIRS 2017 with 30m resolution were classified to assess the spatio-temporal changing pattern of the forest reserve. The results showed different composition of vegetation, which include undisturbed forest, secondary regrowth and farmlands. The study further revealed that in 1986, 2002 and 2017, undisturbed forest constituted 63.3%, 32.4% and 32.1% of the entire land area respectively, while secondary regrowth occupied 8.3% in 1986, 9.5% in 2002 and 15.6% in 2017. The farmlands had erratic growth between 1986 and 2017. It was 16.9% in 1986, 22.1% in 2002 and 17.5% in 2017. The bare ground exhibited inconsistency in the coverage. In 1986 the areal extent was 11.5%, when it increased to 36% in 2002 and decreased to 31.9% in 2017. In conclusion, the study revealed the extent of forest depletion at Akure Forest Reserve and it is therefore important that the residents, the government and the researchers show major concern about some of the critical factors to human beings that are responsible for forest depletion.