Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMDC) has decried the massive onslaught on the exploitation of Pterocarpus erinaceus, popularly known as African teak, rosewood, Madobiya or Madrid in Hausa for export.
It noted that the export of rosewood was fuelled by its increasing demand in China.
In a statement issued Tuesday in Abuja, the Director General of the Council, Dr. Hussein Ibrahim, noted that the onslaught on Rosewood species in Nigeria was premised on two major reasons; which include the economic recession, which has turned a number of Nigerians including the youths, farmers, etc into loggers and hunters of Rosewood in all the ecological zones where the plant species is endemic.
According to him, “Despite the dwindling availability of nationâ€™s forest resources and the accompanying environmental problems, there is currently a massive onslaught on the exploitation of Pterocarpus erinaceus, popularly known as African teak, rosewood, Madobiya or Madrid in Hausa for export. The manner of exploitation and its impact on forest degradation has been a major cause of concern to industries and the general public in recent times.”
He added: “The export of rosewood is fuelled by its increasing demand in China. The timber merchants working for Chinese businessmen are moving from one State to the other, depleting rosewood resources in their forests, leaving blighted and raped landscapes behind.
“The second, which is closely related to the first is that Chinese businessmen are exploiting a lax regulating and enforcement environment, loopholes in existing laws and unwillingness of government to give bite to existing policy on illegal trade in the export of the countryâ€™s forest resources.”
Ibrahim revealed that this has culminated in the harvesting and export of 000â€™m3 of rosewood logs to China since 2013, stressing that the trade has gulped more than $1.3 billion dollars in West Africa alone.
The DG said available statistics evidenced that Nigeriaâ€™s forest resources have served as engine of growth and have propelled economic activities in the country as far back as 1792 when pit sawing operation commenced, followed by the establishment of a power sawmill in Delta area in 1902.
Ibrahim however stressed that recent statistics indicated that the total volume of usable wood down to 30cm cutting diameter in the forest reserves was only about 437,507,205.95m3, noting that this makes the present unmitigated exploitation of rosewood for export, a dangerous development.
â€ŽTo stop export of rosewood to China, the DG called on the federal government to seek the cooperation of the Chinese government in order to stop illegal exportation of rosewood.
He emphasised that most actions taken by state governments on the ban on illegal cutting of rosewood are not implementable as a result of the sheer number of the community members involved in the illegal trade.
Ibrahim added: “Chinese companies processing rosewood can be encouraged to establish in Nigeria. This is to promote value addition and job creation locally. Also, the State governments should increase the number of protected areas in their domain in order to protect this highly valued species.”