Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Baffled with the high rate of deforestation in the country, the federal government Friday conveyed an emergency meeting on afforestation, where it vowed to put in place a sustainable pathway to curbing the problem of deforestation.
It said the deplorable condition of the country’s forests in recent time is a matter of concern, stressing that across the various States, there is unprecedented high rate of deforestation and forest degradation, arising from intensive logging of timber for export markets and fuel wood extraction for chacoal production for domestic use.
The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed who disclosed this in Abuja during the stakeholders meeting on afforestation, she said the essence of the meeting was to identify the challenges, solutions and the way forward for the sector within the overall context of the change agenda of the present administration.
She stated that the 3.5% of deforestation per annum was unacceptable if the country must achieve the international recommendation of 25% forest standard, adding that Nigeria has less than 5% forests at present.
This, she said; “calls for urgent attention, many States now see the forests as main source of revenue generation and yet little or nothing is being done to ploughed back for forestry development. The activities of timber merchants including foreigners who engage in some illegal deals are not helping matters either.”
The minister also lamented that the forestry sector is also challenged by outdated policies and regulations, as well as inadequate manpower and low capacity for enforcement at various levels of government.
Muhammed stated: “We want to bring back our forest cover over the next three years, it takes time, we have done the destruction over time, it now becomes crisis. What we want to do now is to see that we can bring Nigerians in a way that everyone is on board and we are pulling in the same direction.”
When asked how the Great Green World project would help in this direction, she noted; “the great green world project is across eleven States, 49 Local governments, has over 40 million people; So, what we want to create is a green economic corridor where we are growing trees that are economic, and we are providing jobs, and at the same time we are reclaiming the desert, working with the Water sector and Agriculture to see how we can make this a reality.”
The minister revealed that, “over the next couple of decades, what we want to do is to put in a solid foundation for this, every administration that will come, we don’t do very much, and then we go back and then we go forward small and go back. What we want to do is put a sustainable pathway, that means everybody in this room is inmportant, the state government, local government, private sector, civil society, business; business is got to grow but we dont want it to grow destroying the society, everybody as a voice here.”
Muammed admitted that poverty and lack of alternative have exercebated the problem, noting that; “what we are trying to say is let’s actually bring a solution to stopping this, that’s why it is called an emergency meeting, it is urgent that we bring this solution to one place and act on them. We have this knowledge but we haven’t brought it together to act on it as a whole. The challenge has to come as a collaboration, we have to partner that we can no longer continue to do small part of this because it has become so big in every state of the federation, there is a crisis with what is happening with our forest.”