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Stakeholders raise fresh concerns on forest loss

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Forest<br />

Stakeholders are raising concern over the alarming loss of forestland to agricultural purposes.

The Earth loses 18.7 million acres of forests per year, which is equal to 27 soccer fields every minute, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

This is coming from a backdrop of a recent forest inventory report taken in Cross Rivers state that revealed that a whooping 167,382 hectares of forestland was lost to agriculture between 2007-2014, and over 23,911 hectares of forest land was lost to other purposes.

They worried that in Cross River that house over 30per cent of the nations forest, the degradation of forest is increasing at an average of 5,071hectares is loss annually repressing 0.67per cent.

The stakeholders expressed the concerns during a high-level sensitization workshop on National Forest Inventory organized by the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization at the weekend in Abuja.

A Community Engagement Specialist for the UN REDD+ programme, Martins Egot during a paper presentation on the Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Cross River State experience) pointed out that agriculture is a major drivers of forest loss in Nigeria.

He highlighted other drivers of forest loss to include forestry including timber exploitation, logging, infrastructure development that is construction of roads, mining and quarry adding that the locals also exploit the forest for fuel wood and charcoal.

He pointed out that for many rural communities that reside around the forest, the forest is heir major source of livelihood including food, water, economy is dependent on the forest but unfortunately most of them are into farming, and this inturn leads to loss of forest land.

He said in as much people must farm and make money, there has to be a balance adding that agriculture system should have been some on the degraded land instead of pulling down the forest.

He stressed that people should be encouraged to farm on degraded land even if it means introducing organic fertilizer to ensure that they get expected yield from the degraded land.

Egot also stressed the need to train farmers so as to be able to maximize the land and get expected result, adding that “farmers employ the crude way of doing things, whereby each year they slash, burn and plant that is not sustainable. We are emphasizing on agro forestry such that their would be minimal impact on the forest”.

He called for the need for regeneration, saying, in as much as so many hectares of land have been lost to agriculture, government should embark on regeneration so as to reclaim the lost forest land.

He identified that forest degradation affect the natural water source,  food system as the land would loose its fertility and also result in erosion problem.


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