Old Oyo National Park (OONP) is endowed with forest resources that witnessed a substantial degree of human exploitation; resulted in significant ecosystem alteration and this has become an issue of concern in recent times. This study therefore, analyzed spatio-temporal changing pattern of forest resources at OONP between 1984 and 2014; examined anthropogenic factors responsible for the changes; assessed the effects of OONP on the hosting communities and highlighted conservation methods employed by the management. Primary and secondary data were used for the study. The primary data, which emanated from questionnaire survey, were used to examine the anthropogenic factors responsible for forest depletion and assessed the conservation methods employed at the park. Four settlements were purposively selected for the study because of their proximity and pressure exerted on the park. A total number of 180 respondents were randomly selected from the communities. Landsat TM (1984), TM (1990), ETM+ (2000) and OLI (2014) were utilized to analyze the spatio-temporal changing pattern. The images were enhanced, sub-mapped and classified into four land covers, which include high forest, light forest, bare soils and water body. The results showed a steady growth of high forest; decrease in light forest area and increase in the coverage of bare soils. The water body became visible in 2000 when a dam with 3,250 ha was constructed but decreased to 3,245 ha in 2014. Anthropogenic activities such as, grazing (33%), illegal felling of trees for charcoal (25%), bush burning (12%), lumbering (18%) and fuel-wood harvesting (12%) were responsible for forest depletion. The effects were both negative (60%) and positive (40%) while conservation methods employed include the use of forest guards, placement of warning signposts at strategic locations, arrest and prosecution of trespassers. In conclusion, OONP has been under serious threat from anthropogenic activities thus; government should ensure reliable and effective monitoring by incorporating local community surveillance and drone.
Keywords: Forest resources; satellite imageries; anthropogenic activities; OONP; Nigeria