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Olusola, Johnson Adeyinka (FELLOW)

Department of Forestry and Wood Technology,

Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria


Okoroigwe, Ikechukwu Nelson. (MENTOR)

Department of Geography (GIS), University of Ibadan, Ibadan. Oyo State, Nigeria


Executive Summary 

This research examines the use of geographic information systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing in identifying the effects of man’s activities (exploration & exploitation) on biodiversities of the coastal environment with particular reference to River State Nigeria. Rivers state is environmentally sensitive to changes brought about by economic development and changing land-use patterns. Throughout history, humans have exploited the coastal environment. The sustainable use and management of important tropical coastal ecosystems (mangrove forests, sea grass beds and coral reefs) cannot be done without understanding the direct and indirect impacts of man. The ecosystem’s resilience and recovery capacity following such impacts must be determined. The efficacy of mitigation measures must also be considered. Remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) are excellent tools to use in such studies. This result reviews the application of these tools in tropical coastal zones, and illustrates their relevance in sustainable development. The research also provides strategy for sustainable management that can result from remote sensing and GIS studies.  It is also imperative to collect and integrate data from different disciplines. These are essential in the spirit of sustainable development and management, particularly in developing countries, which are often more vulnerable to environmental degradation.

The Purpose (Main Research Questions)

  • A How to use Remote sensing and GPS approach for sustainable management in the coastal environment.
  • B Have there been any changes in the coastal environment of the study area? 
  • C What are the ways to stimulate the impacts of human and interventions on the hydrological conditions of the area?

These are the scentific or academic contributions of the project

  • A The project helps in the application of the GPS and remote sensing in sustainable developments.
  • B It also helps in developing GIS applications support tools for sustainable development of the Nigeria coastal region.
  • C It assists in the handling of the GPS instruments
  • D It also creates an avenue to work on the coastal environments
  • E It helps in the detection of the changes that occurs in the coastal region of Nigeria

Social Impact of the Project

Khan and Tripathi (2004) noted that population explosion and various developmental activities has resulted to the destruction of forest ecosystems thereby altering the composition and diversity of species and leading to loss of important species, both the floral and fauna species. Varying degrees of pollution of air, water and land occur in the course of mineral development depending on the stage and scale of activities attained, and much of Nigeria's population and economic activities are located along the coast, with over 20% of the population inhabiting in coastal areas and most especially along the Niger- delta. Wood, petroleum, coal, gas, and water are the main energy sources in the country and most especially the oil and gas are the most important one that are generated from the Niger-delta Pollution is a major health hazard which comes from gaseous emissions such as pollution, especially from fossil fuel burning processes and processes using gas which affects humans. The obnoxious gases include carbon, nitrous, and sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds smoke and particulates. Also, country is subject to frequent oil spills and accidents related to oil exploitation and exploration which had lead to severe conflicts with local communities in the Niger-delta regions. Therefore if the results from this project is been implemented it will helps and reduce these impact.


    Data Acquired and Source

    For the study, Landsat satellite images of River State were acquired for three Epochs; 1972, 1986 and 2001. Both 1972 and 1986 were obtained from Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF) an Earth Science Data Interface, while that of 2001 was obtained from National Space Research and Development Agency in Abuja (NASRDA).

    It is also important to state that Portharcourt and its environs which were carved out using the local government boundary map and Nigerian Administrative map was also obtained from NASRDA. These were brought to Universal Transverse Marcator projection in zone 31













    Landsat image

    Landsat image

    Landsat image






    30m ™

    30m TM

    80m TM






    FORMECU Land use/land cover

    Vegetation map


    1:1,495, 389

    (view scale)



    Administrative and local government

    Map of Nigeria.




    (view scale)





    Land use and infrastructure map

    of Port Harcourt


    1:150, 000

    Port Harcourt Agricultural

    Development Project


     Geo-referencing Properties of the Images


    The geo-referencing properties of both 1986 & 2001 are the same while image thinning was applied to the 1972 imagery which has a resolution of 80m using a factor of two to modify its properties and resolution to conform to the other two has given below;


    Data type: rgb8

    File type: binary

    Columns: 535

    Rows: 552

    Referencing system: utm-31

    Reference units: m

    Unit distance: 1

    Minimum X: 657046.848948

    Maximum X: 687541.848948

    Minimum Y: 921714.403281

    Maximum Y: 953178.403281

    Min Value: 0

    Max Value: 215

    Display Minimum: 0

    Display Maximum: 215



    Image thinning was carried out through contract; contract generalizes an image by reducing the number of rows and columns while simultaneously decreasing the cell resolution. Contraction may take place by pixel thinning or pixel aggregation with the contracting factors in X and Y being independently defined. With pixel thinning, every nth pixel is kept while the remaining is thrown away.



    Software Used


    Basically, five software were used for this project viz;

    • ArcView 3.2a – this was used for displaying and subsequent processing and enhancement of the image. It was also used for the carving out of Portharcourt region from the whole River State imagery using both the admin and local government maps.


    • ArcGIS – This was also used to compliment the display and processing of the data



    • Idrisi32 – This was used for the development of land use land cover classes and subsequently for change detection analysis of the study area.


    • Microsoft word – was used basically for the presentation of the research.

    Development of a Classification Scheme


    Based on the priori knowledge of the study area for over 20 years and a brief reconnaissance survey with additional information from previous research in the study area, a classification scheme was developed for the study area after (Anderson et al 1967). The classification scheme developed gives a rather broad classification where the land use land cover was identified by a single digit.














    Built-up land





    Water bodies

    Table 2. Land use land cover classification scheme


    The classification scheme given in table 3.2 is a modification of Anderson’s in 1967

    The definition of waste land as used in this research work denotes land without scrub, sandy areas, dry grasses, rocky areas and other human induced barren lands.


     Methods of Data Analysis

    Calculation of the Area in hectares of the resulting land use/land cover types for each study year and subsequently comparing the results. Also, Markov Chain and Cellular Automata Analysis for predicting change and overlay Operations of the image were and Image thinning were carried out Maximum Likelihood Classification as well as Land Consumption Rate and Absorption Coefficient
















    Figure 1. Taking of the GPS readings on the field.


    Research Results and Products


    Okiwelu and Anyanwu (2003) explain biological diversity (biodiversity) as the variation among living organisms, which encompasses species diversity (the number of different species) genetic diversity (genetic variety within species) and ecosystem diversity (the variety of interactions among living things in natural communities). The term is also used to describe the number, variety and variability of living organisms. In a broad sense, it is essentially “life on earth”.

    It is interesting to note that our Niger Delta has been declared a key zone for the conservation of the Western Coast of Africa on the basis of its extraordinary biodiversity. In addition, Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA), a massive review of our current knowledge on the broad field of biological diversity commissioned by UNEP considers humans as an integral and critical important part of biodiversity (UNEP, 1999). In the past, there was the tendency to treat the human species as separate from the rest of nature. It is estimated that in Nigeria there are more than 4600 plants species of which about 205 are endemic (that is they cannot be found elsewhere). Of these, about 484 plants in 112 families are threatened with extinction which is resulted through the impact of the oil exploitation (Okiwelu and Anyanweu, 2003). Many animals and birds are also threatened with extinction (Salau, 1993). According to another estimate, 25 out of 274 mammals, 10 out of 831 birds, and 2 out of 114 reptiles known to exist in Nigeria are endangered (WRI, 1992).

    Generally, biodiversity have social, economic, sacred (cultural, spiritual), nutritional and linguistic values. It provides enjoyment, employment and aesthetic opportunities.



    The benefits derivable from biodiversity are as many as there are variable types of species or biological resources. The importance of species and genetic diversity can be summed as follows;

    1. The must important use of biological species is as food. About 103 plant species feed the world’s population as grains, vegetables, oil and seeds, fruits etc. Many animal species are eaten, though only a few species are managed in husbandry.
    2. Biological species are important in biological control of pests and crop improvement. Biotech, using genetic material in plants, animals and microbes, contribute significantly to better health care, enhance food production etc.
    3. Medicinal drugs derived from natural sources, mainly plants and a small fraction of mainly marine animal species; make an important global contribution to health.



    Oil and gas constitute over 90% of Nigerian foreign exchange earnings. And the Niger Delta is the seat bench of oil and gas production in Nigeria. Virtually all aspects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation have deleterious effects on the ecosystem and local biodiversity. Oil exploration by seismic companies involves surveying, clearing of seismic lines and massive dynamiting for geological excavation (Seismic testing). The explosion of dynamite in aquatic environment produces narcotic effect and mortality of fish and other faunal organisms at the study area. Destabilization of sedimentary materials associated with dynamite shooting cause’s increment in turbidity, blockage of filter feeding apparatuses in benthic fauna, reduction of photosynthetic activity due to reduced light penetration etc. Burying of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta fragments rich biodiversity ecosystems like rainforest, and mangroves. Apart from the reduction in habitat area, clearing of pipeline track delineates natural populations, which might in turn distort bleeding. Oil spillages routinely occur in the Niger Delta. Sources of oil in the environment are variable, including, pipeline leakage and rupturing, accidental discharges (tank accident) discharges from refineries, urban centers etc. There are also biogenic sources of hydrocarbons. Between 1976 and 1997, there have been 5334 reported cases of crude oil spillages releasing about 2.8 million barrels of oil into the land, swamp, estuaries and coastal waters of Nigeria (Dublin-Green et al. 1998). Most of these oil spill incidents reported in Nigeria occur in the mangrove swamp forest of the Niger Delta. Mangrove, of course, is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world with rich community of fauna and flora. It is pertinent to note that majority of oil spills occurring in the Niger Delta are considered minor and are not reported. Some of the pronounced oil spillages recorded in the petroleum industry of the Niger Delta include, Bomu – II blow out, 1970; Forcados terminal spillage, 1980; Funiwa – 5 oil well blowout, 1980; Oyakana pipeline spillage, 1980; Okoma pipeline spillage, 1985; Oshika pipeline, 1993 and the recently Goi Trans Niger pipeline oil spill, 2004.

    The overall effects of oil on ecosystem health and biota are very many. Oil interferes with the functioning of various organs systems of plants and animals. It creates environmental conditions unfavorable for life. For e.g. oil on the water surface forms a layer which prevents oxygen from dissolving in water. Crude oil contains toxic components, which caused out right mortality of plants and animals as well as other sub lethal impacts. Generally, toxicity is dependent on the nature and type of crude oil, the level of oil contamination, type of environment and the selective degree of sensitivity of the individual organism.


    Gas flaring associated with oil production in the Niger Delta is very unfriendly to natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Gas flares contain over 250 toxins. Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Nigeria and The climate justice programme, UK, (2005) usefully documented the environmental and economic implications of gas flaring in Nigeria. Perhaps more important is the finding of this study impact of gas flaring on the environment which revealed that there was about 100% loss in yield in all crops cultivated about 200 metres away from the Izombe station, 45% loss of those about 600 metres away and about 10% loss in yield for crops about one kilometer away from the flare (Okezie and Okeke, 1987).

    Leakages and fire incidents are also associated with gas production and transportation. Just last week, Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) pipeline traversing Kala-Akama, Okrika mangrove swamps leaked and caught fire which burned uncontrollably for 3 days. Local plants and animals inhabiting the affected area were killed. It must be stressed that incidents such as this one outlined above can result in elimination of whole population of endangered species with restricted distribution.

    For instance, during the construction of NLNG, gas plant in Bonny, footprints of hippopotamus were visibly seen. These giant wild life known to have flourish in the Finima area where the NLNG plant complex now conspicuously occupy had vanished completely. Whether the rare Finima hippo population are all dead or embarked on mandatory migration to a relatively “safe” and undisturbed area remain obscure to this day. However, it is ecologically acclaimed that wildlife caused by anthropogenic disturbances to migrate are prone to encounter ecological catastrophes.

    Environmental Consequences of oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta.

    Today, there are in the Niger Delta, 11 oil companies operating 159 oil fields and 1,481 wells (The Guardian 2006. 16). In a recent report titled ‘Ways of using Oil boom for Sustainable Development ’published by the African Development Bank (ADB) , Nigeria’s total earnings from crude oil was put at$600 billion (or about N84 trillion) in the past 45 years. That should translate to over N1.8 trillion per annum for 45 years. For 50 years now, for the overwhelming majority of the citizens of Nigeria, particularly those of the Niger Delta, the discovery of oil is a curse. However, to the beneficiaries of the oil industry, mainly those who have been at the helm of affairs of the Federal and state power over the years, the discovery of oil is a blessing. These divergent positions call for an appraisal of the functions and/or dysfunctions of oil these past 50 year. Before the discovery of oil, agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian’s economy. After the discovery of oil in 1956, particularly since independence, agriculture has almost been totally abandoned by all states of the federation, all of which have come to depend, almost entirely in most cases, on the revenue from oil. Disastrous ecological degradation and environmental pollution in the Niger Delta coupled with the utter neglect by the oil companies, have contributed to impoverish the citizens of the area. Over 50 per cent of the 70,000 square kilometers of the territory has neither motorable roads nor hospitals (Guardian Newspaper 2006). There are at least three refineries and two petrochemical plants, yet fuel stations are not available in about 50 per cent of the area. Also gas thermal stations in the Niger Delta account for about 50% of Nigeria’s electricity supply; but half of the community does not have electricity. Over time, the effects of oil and gas exploration on the environment have become a cause of concern to stakeholders, government, NGOs communities and individuals. This has led the government to formulate various policies to arrest the situation and thus promote sustainable exploration activities. As mentioned earlier, the rural populace in the Niger Delta practice fishing and subsistence farming, but during floods, which lasts for over half of the year in some areas the waters are usually contaminated which negatively affects marine life; with the waters unable to sustain vegetation due to petroleum hydrocarbon pollutants. Drinking water is scarce and in the dry season, water is usually not available which also increases the risk of water borne diseases. The water related diseases exert an enormous social and economic impact on the people. Further, the urban and rural infrastructure is poor. The inhabitants of the area also experience scorching heat daily from gas flaring which is also detrimental to the health of the people. The environmental problems of the Niger Delta are myriad with environment, health and economic implications. They can be categorized into:

    • Land resource degradation

    • Renewable resource degradation

    • Environmental pollution.

    Some of these problems include agricultural land degradation, flooding, fisheries depletion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, water hyacinth expansion, sewage, coastal erosion, oil pollution, industrial air emission, gas flaring and mangrove degradation among others. These problems have grievous consequences and some times long term environmental problems. The development of infrastructure for oil activities for example result in physical alteration of the environment as well as the degradation of natural resources especially marine bio-resources. Given the grave implications of long term environmental problems, the intervention costs of avoiding most accidents of oil spillage are not so high and should be included in the normal operating cost of oil companies working in the region as practiced in most parts of the world.




    Dublin-Green, C. O; Nwankwo, J. N. and Irechukwu, D. O. 1998; Effective Regulation and Management of HSE issues in the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria. SPE international conference on Health, Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas exploration and production. Caracas, Venezula, 7 – 10 June 1998. paper No. SPE 40/26.

    Guardian Newspaper (2006) Oil, 50 years on. Tuesday June 13 p 16


    Khan, M. L. and Tripathi, R. S. (2004). Sacred groves of Manipur - centre for the conservation of biodiversity. Current Science 87: 430-433.

    Meyer, B.D. (1995). "Lessons from the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association,

    Okezie, D. W and Okeke, A. O. 1987: “Flaring of Associated Gas in Oil Industry: Impact on growth, Productivity, and Yield of Selected Farms Crops, Izombe Flow station Experience” (Presented at the NNPC Workshop, Port Harcourt).

    Okiwelu, S. N. and Anyanwu, D. I. 2003: Dictionary of Ecology, Conservation and Environmental Sciences, Niyi Faniran, Lagos, p 16.

    Riebsame, William E. 1990. Anthropogenic climate change and a new paradigm in natural resource planning. Professional Geographer 42, 1: 1-12.

    Salau, D. A. 1993: Environmental Crisis and Development in Nigeria. University of Port Harcourt Inaugural Lecture series, No. 13.

    UNESCO's Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) develops the basis, within the natural and the social sciences, UNESCO 1995-2010 - ID: 10891

    United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 1999: Cultural and Spiritual values of biodiversity. Intermediate Technology Publications, London, 730p.

    Wilkie, D.S., and Finn, J.T., 1996, Remote sensing imagery for natural resources monitoring--A   

    World Resources Institute (WRI) 1992: World Resources 1992 – 93, N. Y. Oxford University Press


    Personal Reflection

    This programme has assist me alot in my academic pursuit, and also it has broden my knowledge in the area of the biodiversity conservation. It has helped me in the application of the GPS and Remote sensing tools to maintanace of the biodiversity.



    We wish to acknowledge those who have contributed to the success of this project, and those that make the fund available as well as those that make the software available were acknowledged.

    Our gratitude goes to Dr. Rodrigo Sierra for his encouragement, kindness, teaching and assistant during and after the the training period.

    Specially thank Dr. Patricia Solis, Dr. Mathew, Susan and Candida and the entire people of the Association of American Geographers for such a great and knowledge adding research program setup by them.

    All the  Fellows & Mentors and local people who participated in the research activities of My Community, Our Earth(MYCOE)/SERVIR Biodiversity in Africa were also acknowledged.

    Johnson Olusola,
    Jul 1, 2010, 4:04 PM
    Johnson Olusola,
    Jul 1, 2010, 4:08 PM
    Johnson Olusola,
    Jul 1, 2010, 4:15 PM
    Johnson Olusola,
    Jul 1, 2010, 5:01 PM