CONSERVATION POTENTIALS, TREE SPECIES DIVERSITY, DISTRIBUTION AND STRUCTURE OF SACRED GROVES IN SOUTH-WESTERN NIGERIA
Keywords:Anthropogenic influences, biodiversity indices, conservation measures, traditional method, tropical rainforest, regeneration potentials
Though sacred groves were not originally established for biodiversity conservation purposes, they have contributed largely to biodiversity conservation. The distribution of sacred groves in south-western Nigeria
was investigated and examined for biodiversity conservation potentials. Four sacred groves (Osun-Osogbo, Igbo-Olodumare, Idanre hills and Ogun-Onire) were selected for this study. Data were collected from 32 temporary sample plots of 20 m x 40 m. Nineteen sacred groves were identified across south-western Nigeria. A total of 37 families were enumerated within the four groves, with 32, 26, 22 and 22 families occurring in Ogun-Onire, Idanre Hills, Osun-Osogbo and Igbo-Olodumare, respectively. A pooled total of 141 tree species (41 to 85 per grove) were encountered in the four sacred groves, with Ogun-Onire having a significantly higher number of species than the other groves. Tree density ranged from 1427 to 4825 ha-1. Shannon-Wiener diversity index (2.63 to 3.55) was significantly different in the four groves, with Igbo-Olodumare and Ogun-Onire having the lowest and highest values, respectively. When compared to the biodiversity indices of some tropical rainforests, the results indicated that sacred groves have high potentials for biodiversity conservation and thus could serve as reservoir of biodiversity.