Assessment of High Conservation Values (HCVs) in Okomu Oil Palm Company Main Estate, Okomu-Udo, Ovia South-West

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Date

2017-09-15

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Foremost Development Services Limited

Abstract

This report contained the findings from the HCV assessment at Okomu Oil Palm Company Main Estate in Okomu-Udo, Ovia South-west of Edo State, Nigeria. It involved identification of HCVs and potential HCVs in different locations and land-uses within the estate, whose existence could be negatively impacted by current and future operations of the company as well as other external forces or anthropogenic activities. Threats and potential threats to the HCVs were also identified. The ssessment processes included the pre-assessment phase and full HCV assessment. The pre-assessment involved activities such as desk and web-based research, review of documents and licensed areas and a scoping exercise. The full HCV assessment were much more detailed, including botanical, faunal and iscthyofaunal surveys, community and stakeholder consultations as well as participatory mapping. The findings revealed that only four HCVs were presents within the concession. These were HCVs 1, 3, 4 and HCV 6. The HCV 1 included the impressive population of vulnerable, near threatened and critically endangered tree species in the riparian forests and wetlands within the assessment area. In total, 96 and 13 tree species were identified in the riparian forests and wetland, respectively. There were twenty-four (24) fauna species including four IUCN-classified vulnerable species (red-capped mangabey, Cercocebus torquatus; endemic white-throated monkey, Cercopithecus erythrogaster; tree pangolin, Manis tricuspis and Home‟s hinged tortoise, Kinixys homeana) present in the concession. Forty-four (44) bird species in 24 families, two and one of which were IUCN-Red listed as vulnerable (i.e. Yellow-casqued hornbill, Ceratogymna elata and African grey parrot, Psittacus erithacus) and Near threatened (i.e. Stream warbler, Bathmocercus cerviniventris), respectively. Two of the riparian forests in the assessment area are fairly large in extent considering the disappearance rates of Nigerian forest estates. . The riparian forests harbour an impressive population of economically-important tree species that are very rare on a national scale, and unavailable in most of the reserves or other protected natural habitats. The wetlands are also unique in their right for attracting viable populations of important bird species and other faunas. Due to high deforestation rates and the increasing area under cultivation, lowland swamp forests with natural species composition are rare in Nigeria. Therefore, any significant area of good quality lowland forest and wetlands would almost certainly qualify as HCV. Hence, the justification for the presence of HCV 3 in the area. The Okomu River in the southern boundary and its tributaries constitute the HCV 4 because they are important sources of water and fishing for some communities, especially the Ijaws. In addition, the five wetlands in the assessment area are important ecosystems, providing refuges for unique species of avifauna. Within the assessment area, a „Life Tree‟ (Newbouldia laevis) considered to be HCV 6 is present. The shrine is worshipped by Udo community, and is currently contained in a short fence but its presence within the workers‟ abode and close to daily operations exposes it to the risk of possible desecration. Field verifications and confirmation during community consultations revealed indicators of some threats in form of wildlife hunting through trapping and firearm. Although, there were no logging signs observed, there are possibility in the future considering the richness of the riparian forests coupled with the current high rates of forest disappearance in Edo State. Therefore, strict enforcement of hunting ban in all the riparian and wetlands are recommended. The company should explore the possibilities of having a MoU with Okomu National Park for joint monitoring of important (IUCN red listed) faunal species within the forest. All riparian forest areas must be excluded from conversion or development activities. Furthermore, application of agrochemicals in riparian forests, and within the vicinity of wetlands should be avoided. The company should also endeavour to prepare HCV management plan, which will accommodate management of the shrine (HCV 6) in the assessment area.

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Adeyemi, A., Olanigan, A, Edet, D., Akachukwu, C., Adebayo, E., Egwumah, F., Okere, H. & Ibe, U. (2017). Assessment of High Conservation Values (HCVs) in Okomu Oil Palm Company Main Estate, Okomu-Udo, Ovia South-West

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