Assessment of Vulnerability of Scattered Agroforestry Tree Species to Climate Change in Niger State, Nigeria


Climate change-induced impacts on trees has gained much more attention during the past years. In the tropics, more information on trees sensitivity to climate change is still needed. This study has assessed the vulnerability of Underutilized Agroforestry Trees (UAT) to climate change in Niger State, Nigeria. An Integrated Assessment Approach, encompassing exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity, and relating nineteen (19) indicators, has been used as framework for the assessment. To overcome the non-availability of specific tree-related data, the vulnerability of Underutilized Agroforestry Trees (UAT) has been assessed using the vulnerability of rural communities relying on them as a proxy. Therefore individual questionnaires have been administered to 340 farmers, heads of households, across seven (7) Local Government Areas (LGAs), namely, Bosso, Rafi, Lavun, Lapai, Mashegu, Kontagora and Borgu LGAs, in Niger State. This enabled the identification of the most used species, and the assessment of their ethno-botanic, edible cultural and economic importance. The identified species were also ranked according to their sensitivity level to climate change. The data analysis, performed in R software and Microsoft Excel, revealed Adansonia digitata, Vitellaria paradoxa, Parkia biglobosa, Vitex doniana and Tamarindus indica as the five species mostly used by Nupe, Hausa, Gwari, Abewa, Kambari, Bussa and Kamuku ethnic groups. All the identified species are used as food by man. However, they are also implicated in different proportion in other uses such as animal feeding, medicine, firewood, art and craft, worshiping, building, cosmetics, and trade. Although the climatic conditions pertaining to Niger State totally lie within the tolerance range of each species, some species have been perceived to be more sensitive than others. In this sense, rural communities pointed out V. doniana as being highly sensitive to climate change compared to other species. A strong association between local knowledge of the rural communities and their perception of the vulnerability of the mentioned species to climate change, can therefore be established. Furthermore, the assessment of vulnerability highlights a disparity in natural and social assets among the Local Government Areas. Farmers in Lavun and Lapai LGAs are deemed to be more vulnerable whilst those in Mashegu LGA are the least vulnerable to climate change. The results consequently imply that intervention should be drawn towards rural communities in Lavun and Lapai LGA to enhance their resilience to climate change. To be more effective, intervention measures should take into account, among others, the cultural importance of the species with regard to their traditional uses.