Saturday, 3rd June 2023

Nigeria takes stock of pollinator friendly land degradation action plan

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam and Anietie Akpan
16 March 2020   |   3:31 am
The Federal Government has taken stock of the pollinator land degradation neutrality action plan and jump-started a two-year strategy for the implementation of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network

The Federal Government has taken stock of the pollinator land degradation neutrality action plan and jump-started a two-year strategy for the implementation of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) Phase II in the country.

Nigeria is one of the six countries that took part in the third BES-Net Phase I, Regional Trialogue meetings held last year in Nairobi along with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia.

The aim is to raise awareness on the synergies between IPBES Thematic Assessment Reports on pollinators, pollination and food production and land degradation and restoration, promote policy/science/practice uptake of the recommendations in the Anglophone Africa region in alignment with national Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) efforts. 

The Trialogue was an excellent opportunity for participating countries to discuss the status of pollinators and broader land ecosystems in their respective regions; analyze their importance to sustainable local food production, climate resilience and food security; and ways to address the challenges of invasive pests and pathogens, land-use change and pesticide use.

Consequently, Nigeria was selected to participate in the BES-Net Phase II – which seeks to formalize the scientists-policymakers-practitioners partnership and strengthen synergy and complementarity in decisions and actions for sustainable biodiversity and ecosystems conservation in target countries.

The selection is in recognition of Nigeria’s exemplary proactive voluntary set of actions embarked upon as a result of the Nairobi meeting. These include implementation of the Trialogue action plans, joining the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, which is a global alliance of like-minded countries for promoting pollinator protection, organization of a series of communities/school awareness-raising and sensitization sessions on the protection of pollinators and their habitats.

The quarterly review meeting of the national trialogue on pollinator-friendly land degradation neutrality action plan was held in Calabar, Cross River state last week with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety through the UNDP-managed BES-Net initiative.

In his remark, UNDP Environmental Focal Person for UNDP programmes in Nigeria, Mr. Muyiwa Odele, said one of the overall objectives of the meeting was “to come up with a national implementation and work plans that will guide the action plan that was developed last year in Kenya along with Nigerians that attended the phase one BESNet meeting programme with representation from the Federal Ministry of Environment, civil society, agriculture, academia, international organisations like the UNDP”.
According to him, the meeting was to facilitate a common understanding of the challenges and obstacles for mainstreaming the conservation of biodiversity ideas into national policy-making by bringing together the science community, normal rural communities and policy makers. “That is why it is called a trialogue, drawing researchers, decision-makers and people in the communities that actually translate these things into everyday reality to the table to talk then seek common grounds on how best to advance some of the latest innovations and thinking around the conservation of biodiversity.

He pointed out that “the team also focused on looking at the relationship between pollination, pollinators and what they can do to contribute to Nigeria’s goal of reducing land degradation under the land degradation neutrality that Nigeria is part of and also looking at the implication of climate change on food security on rural communities small holder farmers most of whom are women and then looking at the convergence between the UN convention on desertification that Nigeria is a signatory to under which we have the LDN and how then Can become a platform for adoption of pollinators propagating the critical values of pollinators to stabilization of the eco system”.
In this regards, he said the meeting was very successful and “we have been able to do a review of our action plan which we shared in Nairobi to see what we have been able to achieve today and try to look for few issues that we needed to add which can then strengthen Nigeria’s contribution and position us for BESNet phase two because whatever we do here will be submitted for support under BESNet two”.
Odele said the programme is a Federal Government programme with the support of UNDP in Nigeria and “this meeting has come out with the revised action plan for implementing the LDN as well as the pollination trialogue decisions that came out in 2019. So we have a revised action plan for Nigeria. The second thing is a work plan for the implementation of the action plan. You know an action plan is just a set of priorities that need to be taken to the next level of how do you actually implement this, what kind of resources do you need, what kind of partnership arrangement do you need to organize.
“There is going to be a pilot project that will bring about some resources to help farmers and anyone who is interested in bee keeping and it’s going to be a platform for teaching young people from primary to secondary school about the critical roles of pollinators in the eco system, how they increase productivity, production stabilizing and contribute to food security, create awareness and eliminate or reduce to the barest minimum how chemicals are used because of the impact this causes on agriculture as a whole”.

In his contribution, the Principal Consultant and Chief Executive of Centre for Environment, Renewable, Natural Resources Management Research and Development, Dr Olajide Ladipo, stated that ‘the problems are that we do not know the value our insects.

We have studied them so much but the data and the information are sitting down on the shelves and they are not being utilized. It should be turned into policy and policy will drive research development. In Nigeria, it has not started and we need to get it on the ground. For example, pteracarpus runacus (African Rose wood) has been finished in Nigeria. They have been cut and exported.  Now we have an average of two trees per hectare and the remaining of the trees are young ones.
“It is the bees that feed on the pollen of the flower but the bees are gone because there are no foods for them. So we are now having a low by 50 percent fall in the production of honey in the middle belt area where Shear butter trees are being cut for charcoal and this very bad for our ecology. So we really need to get our axe together in other to get it better. The shear butter trees are important for bees and shear butter”.

He pointed out that “our forests are being degraded very fast and we need to protect the forest in the real sense of protection and not on paper. Lots of governors said they are doing it but they are not doing it and we really have to get the Federal Department of Forestry and NESDRA to enforce all these things… we must have a national strategy on what we need and what we do not need…We should see how sustainable charcoal production can be promoted and discourage the destruction of shear butter trees which are good habitats for pollinators and there should be a national policy to remove all chemicals from roadsides selling so as to serve our environment. Chemicals, as it is done in some countries, should only be sold to farmers and experts in designated shops”.
In a welcome address by the BESNet Coordinator and the Acting Director of Forestry, Federal Department of Forestry, Mr. Tiamiyu Sikuru Oladele, said: “We have a newly inaugurated National Taskforce to check the illegal exploitation of forestry products. It is in place and was inaugurated two weeks ago. This will encourage the survival of pollinators because when there is no forest there are no pollinators.  Most of these pollinators their habitats are in the forest so when you remove the forest you remove the habitat and automatically you remove them. it cuts across all the stakeholders in the forestry sector (state forestry, federal forestry, wood exporters, saw millers and NGOs “.

He said the forest guards “will check criminals and reduce logging because people just go into the forest and clear whatever they like and this affects the insects and pollinators. We see the destruction of the forest as a challenge and we will solve it. We need to sensitize people on the need to use bees as an important part of pollination for agriculture and not just for honey”.
Dr Kabir Mustapha who presented a paper on the “Status of Implementation of the Pollinator LDN Action Plan for Nigeria”, said, “we are developing a national data base for pollinators and stop the use of chemicals by farmers and others indiscriminately”.
Represented by staff with the Ministry of Environment, Egbuwale  Sikeade, he said, “many farmers in Nigeria do not know the importance of pollinators hence there is need to sensitization as many farmers just burn bees nd chase them away but we do not need to burn bees them” and emphasized on the need to improve current conditions for the maintenance of pollinators’ population and pollination services.