Cross River communities want logging moratorium lifted
Forest communities in Cross River State have called on the state government to lift the 10-years old logging moratorium.
A communiqué signed by the village head of Iko-Esai, Aita Obhort Obi Owai on behalf of the participating communities said the ban which was imposed 10 years ago by the then Governor Liyel Imoke administration to allow state control its forest logging activities and key into the UN-REDD carbon credit programme and other conservation activities is to the detriment of communities.
Rising from a one day, “High Level Community Cluster Meeting on Forest Governance” at Iko-Esai village in Akamkpa Local Government Area for selected communities around the Ekuri-Iko, Agoi and Okpon forest block on Friday, the communities said more logging is taking place now than when the ban was not there and the moratorium is not working.
The meeting facilitated by Development Concern (DEVCON) with support from Heinrich Boll Stiftung Nigeria for 10 forest communities said “the communities are not benefiting from the ban on timber as the ban has not been lifted and people are logging. We as a communities are ready to conserve. We are seriously in need and support to conserve our forest.
“There is no ban in Cross River as people are logging and farming recklessly. Government should return hammer to the forest so that for sustainable forest management for the communities and government to benefit. Such money can be used to develop the communities”.
The communities suggested that communities should have land use plan and practice sustainable agriculture, diversity farming, animal farming, improved farming method and farm inputs and high yielding seedlings for their development.
“That Communities should be supported to take initiatives for self and groups mobilisation on how to get out of poverty as it is good for communities to begin to manage their land in a sustainable manner”.
They said conservation education should be introduced in schools while every community should be encouraged not to sell their land as “community land can no longer sustain us because of growth hence we are encroaching into government reserves and soon the reserves will no longer sustain us”.
Commenting, the Executive Director of DEVCON, Mr. Martins Egot said, “from the meeting it is clear that much timber is still leaving the forest communities and the moratorium supposed be a period of correction stopping a system that is fault and go back to normal practice.
“But 10 years now the situation is even worse and I am advising government to go back and see what went wrong and put proper thing in place to ensure that the proper thing is done in terms of forest protection”.
An independent Consultant on Environmental issues, Mr. Tony Atah said, “Nigeria is known for large forest but as at 2010 Nigeria has lost 90 per cent of its land and only 10 per cent is left and out of the remaining 10 per cent more than 6 per cent is in Cross River state and this block of 10 communities involved in this meeting have over 6 per cent”.
He said “a study conducted by the UN-REDD programme in 2014 on drivers of degradation and forest degradation between 2007 and 2014 we lost 40, 000 hectares of land and because of the ban we lost 167, 382 hectares of land and forest. Much lost is due to illegal logging”.
Atah said the study further showed that, “in 2000 we still had forest, but from 2007 forest started receding and in 2014 the forest is lesser and by 2040 our forest will go if nothing drastic is done as the forest is going at rate of 2. 9 per cent every year”.