Nigeria loses 400,000 hectares of forest yearly
The Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, said the country’s forest area has been on a continuous decline from 10 to less than eight per cent today, indicating that about 400,000 hectares of forest are lost yearly, through human activities and other practices that are unsustainable.
Speaking at the International Day of Forest (IDF) in Abuja, Ikeazor, lamented that this ugly development leaves a devastating effect on the social-economic lifestyle of rural dwellers due to over-dependence on forest products for their livelihood in addition to environmental impacts.
Besides, she noted that the day was aimed at creating awareness of forests, which has enabled the nation to attain advancement in renewable natural resources management, adding that the current National Forest Policy sets out strategies for growing the sector for sustainable management.
The minister noted that there is increased enlightenment about the environment. She stressed the need for the country to explore the social, cultural and economic values of forestry, against the declining and unsustainably managed national forest resources.
According to her, the national target is to achieve total forest cover from 10 to 25 percent by 2022.
She declared: “The demand for forest goods and services is on the rise with the increasing population against an unsustainable supply regime. The forestry sector remains an important natural capital asset in the attainment of the development objectives of Nigeria, particularly in the generation of economic activities.
“The guiding principles are centered on sustainable forest management and national development agenda of poverty reduction, improved livelihood, good forest governance, transparency and accountability, biodiversity conservation for the fulfilment of international commitments,” Ikeazor added.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Musa Hassan, called for sustainable management of forest resources to enhance the economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests for the benefit of present and future generations, saying, “forest is one of nature’s most efficient and complex ecosystems in the world.”
Hassan explained that the importance of forests cannot be underestimated as we depend on them for survival from the air we breathe to the wood we use.
Other benefits include the provision of habitat for about 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, watershed protection, prevention of soil erosion and climate change mitigation.
“Nigeria joined 104 other nations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, tagged COP26 held in Glasgow to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. It will also help the adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change maintenance.”