In furtherance to its bid to diversify the nation’s source of income, the federal government on Tuesday announced that it has suspended the ban on wood exports.
The suspension, it stated, came with very stringent guidelines some of which include the issuance of a new international trade certification.
Other guidelines include the cut one tree and plant five trees’ policy with a view to arresting deforestation and preserving the environment.
The Director of Forestry at the Federal Ministry of Environment, Mr. Philip Bankole, who disclosed this yesterday, said Nigeria as country risks massive deforestation if it does not control the way and manner woods are cut and exported to other countries.
Bankole added that the federal government had raised concerns on the degradation of the environment due the activities of wood exporters who cut down trees without re-planting.
However, he stated that the lifting of the ban was partial after which government will further review the situation and know what next to do with regards to wood exports.
He explained that the forest is being conserved not only for wood export, but for other purposes, adding that Nigeria has fallen short of reserving about 25 per cent of its land for forest reservation which currently stands at less than five per cent.
According to him, “The solution to this problem is to plant more trees; those of you who are involved in the wood export business will know that there are some species of woods that have gone into extinction. The Iroko, the Obeche, the Mahogany, Ebony trees have all disappeared. So much is being taken from the forest and little or nothing is being ploughed back into it.”
Bankole said the government frowns at a situation where woods are being exported raw without any value addition.
He said so many jobs and economic value are lost to exporting these woods in their raw state, adding that only processed or semi-processed woods will be allowed for export.
The director said: “There is a need to add value at every stage of processing these woods for export, at every stage of production, you are creating labour within the country, and you are reducing poverty. So the concern of government is that if you cut one tree, you must plant five to replace it so as to safe guard the future of unborn generation.”
He warned that any consignment for export that is not accompanied by CITIES certification would be confiscated by the destination country.
Speaking in similar vein, the President of the Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN), Mr. Tayo Omotoye, lamented that members of his group suffered huge losses since the ban.
He however said now was the time to be re-committed to the preservation of the environment by ensuring that it is protected and preserved even while the wood export business is going on.