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Environmentalists decry impact of monoculture, deforestation

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Environmentalists have said that monoculture and rapid deforestation in Nigeria should stop or there will be no rainforest in the next century.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Voices of Resistance against Monoculture Plantations’ yesterday at a workshop in Akamkpa, Cross River State, the Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr. Godwin Ojo, said: “ERA/FoEN and its allies stand in solidarity with social movements, networks and communities to raise our voices of resistance against monoculture expansion that is increasing daily in Nigeria.

“Globally, ‘No to Monoculture’ is marked on September 21 yearly to draw attention to the impact of monoculture on the environment, conservation and livelihood concerns of rural communities.

“Monoculture is bad because of the high level of chemical inputs such as herbicides and pesticides, which put the world food system at great risk. It is also displacing small-scale farmers growing local staples such as yam, cassava and plantain, some of which are now out-growers of oil palm for the big companies.”

At the workshop themed ‘The Impact Of Deforestation And Making Women’s Voices Count Against Monoculture and Land Grabbing,’ the environmentalist noted that trees of similar specie could not make a forest.

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“Therefore, the rich biodiversity associated with natural forests is lost in the case of monoculture such as oil palm plantation. The expansion is also endangering biodiversity such as butterflies and bees. The Pandrillus monkeys and chimpanzees in Cross River State and the Sclater’s guenon and elephants in Okomu Forest Reserve in Edo State have come under severe threat due to oil palm plantations.

“We raise our voices of resistance against the increasing illegal logging and the appropriation of community lands by government to make way for monoculture agro commodities that serve the interest of big multinational companies, to the detriment of the communities.”

He called on governments and businesses to put people before profits, as “the increasing expansion for same crops, especially oil palm, is colonising our forests and farmlands as well as eroding community sovereignty.”

According to him, it is the communities, especially women, that bear the brunt of deforestation from loss of timber and non-timber forest products that they depend on.

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On his part, the Director, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Dr. Ekpenyong Ita, said so many lives would be lost in the future due to deforestation and monoculture.He stated that “the forest covers 30 per cent of earth land and 20 per cent of world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon forest.”

The Conservator of Park, Caroline Ollory, described women as natural conservationists.“Our women and children depend on the forest, so let our voices count. There is so much deforestation and we must take action now, otherwise in future our children will go to the museum to see how forests look like,” she said.

An associate professor with the University of Calabar, Dr. Raphael Offiong, also condemned monoculture, saying: “The different species we have today in the forest were planted by the animals and birds, so if you remove all their habitats, all the water and animals will be gone.”

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