The ability of Nigerian forest reserves to support livelihoods and provide ecosystem services such as improved primary healthcare, sustainable food production, income generation, and carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change impacts; is currently constrained by deforestation and other anthropogenic factors. Hence, a clear understanding of the underlining patterns and processes of forest cover loss is required to ensure that appropriate methods and approaches are developed to promote conservation in these forest reserves. This study assessed the pattern of forest cover change in five forest reserves (Gambari, Ijaiye, Lanlate, Opara, and Igangan) in Oyo State, southwest Nigeria over 30 years. Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and eight OLI satellites images were acquired from the United States Geological Surveyandused to assess the forest cover loss for the years 1990, 2000, and 2020. There was a significant change in the vegetation cover of the forest reserves with decreases observed over the three decades. From 1990 to 2020, the reduction in forest cover ranged from 42.26% (Opara forest reserve) to 91.21% (Igangan forest reserve). This high rate of deforestation and forest degradation in Oyo State highlights the need for immediate conservation action. In addition, relevant stakeholders and policymakers must intensify efforts focused on the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded forest reserves in the state.
Key Words: Forest reserves, Forest cover, Landsat Thematic Mapper, Deforestation