Conference laments lack of political will to end deforestation in Cross River
Stakeholders have identified lack of political will, non-implementation of laws and policies as factors behind continued deforestation in Cross River State.
They stated this at a conference on ‘Deforestation in Cross River’ held, yesterday, at Kolanut Event Centre in Calabar.
Participants were civil society groups, environmentalists and community chiefs. They lamented that large-scale tropical forest timbers were being logged illegally in the state’s forests.
In his welcome speech, the convener of the conference, Executive Director, Rainforest Resources and Development Centre (RRDC), Odey Oyama, said the event aimed at coming up with ideas on how to salvage the remaining forest.
He said preliminary field survey carried out by the organisers of the conference revealed severe destruction of forests by “armed forest bandits” despite government’s ban on all forms of logging in the state.
He said: “Our findings have confirmed that large scale tropical high forest timber are increasingly being logged illegally, day and night, resulting in extensive eradication of the remaining pristine rainforest in the state.”
“It is the desire of this conference to, therefore, draw attention to the extensive loss of financial benefits that this means to our communities and government, in the form of compensations, royalties, taxes as well as loss of employment opportunities, destruction of the resources of food security and gross aggravation of poverty.”
Presenting a keynote address at the conference, former Chairman of Cross River State Forestry Commission, Dr. Odigha Odigha, said Cross River must have a leadership that has the political will to wrestle deforestation of forest estates like what the state had during the administrations of Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke.
According to him, for that to happen, stakeholders in the sector must spearhead the change and chat a new cause to recover the state and its resources.
In the same vein, Professor of Ecological Architecture and Sustainable Urbanism, University of Cross River (UNICROSS), Ekpenyong Itam, in his lecture on ‘Policy frameworks on Forest Management in Cross River,’ expressed the need to implement existing policies and laws that guide the sector.
He also said that to protect the forest, stakeholders should fund the process with the ecological fund, adding that armed forces, like the civil defence corps, should be used to protect forests instead of the regular task force.
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