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Stakeholders approve $12m UN-REDD plus strategy for Nigeria


Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, John Lebo (left); Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, Governor Ben Ayade and UNDP Senior Regional Technical Adviser, Elsie Attafuah at the event

Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, John Lebo (left); Deputy Governor, Prof. Ivara Esu, Governor Ben Ayade and UNDP Senior Regional Technical Adviser, Elsie Attafuah at the event<br />

A new scheme to deepen the initiative to combat climate change through improved forest governance has been validated by leaders and experts in conservation, climate and development communities. 
The United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (UN-REDD+) programme in Nigeria, which is still at the REDD- readiness phase, is piloted in Cross River State; and as part of the process, both the state and the country are expected to collaboratively develop a strategy that will enable subsequent REDD+ implementation in Nigeria.
It was set up in September 2008, jointly run by three United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The Forest Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment is coordinating the Nigeria UN-REDD+ project.
A $4 million funding from the UN-REDD+ Programme obtained in 2011 has enabled Nigeria’s implementation of its REDD+ Readiness Project, which entails the preparation and implementation of REDD+ strategies with the active involvement of local stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities. The next phase is expected to attract grants of about $12 million.
REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.Specifically, the stakeholders met recently in a two-day workshop in Cross River State to validate the report of the team consultants, together with key United Nations staff supporting the REDD readiness process. It was organised by Cross River State Government and funded by UNDP.
Governor Ben Ayade who opened the workshop, dismissed allegation that the state was pulling down its trees. He commended the UN-REDD team for holding the programme in the state despite negative publicity on the super highway project, which allude that Cross River is not conserving its forest. 
“How could someone imagine a professor of Environmental science to do that?” he queried. According to him, there is plan for afforestation scheme under the highway project and a bill is before the House Assembly to check of cutting trees.His words: “Cross River State holds 58 per cent of the entire forests cover of Nigeria, 6000 square Kilometers of our land completely thick forest. We have a total land mass of about  21,000 square kilometers, the additional vegetation cover of another 7,000 square  kilometers; which tells you that Cross River is basically a forest, and even the 58 per cent is a subject of lack of unanimity in literature, because the truth is Cross River State is actually a forest.”
Ayade said, the state has set up a Green Police to ensure that activities of illegal loggers in the state come to an end, maintaining that “if afforestation was neglected, in the next 25 years, we will not have oxygen to breathe.”
He noted that the REDD programme needs to be reconstructed to reflect the needs and peculiarities of the communities. UNDP Country Director, Nigeria, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai noted that the REDD provides an opportunity to find innovative ways to mobilize financing and investments and provide incentives to address key development challenges including poverty eradication, promoting green development pathways and sustainable development.
“REDD+ is not simply about measuring the carbon stored in the forests and about the associated financing and incentives. It is about livelihoods. It is about food, energy , water  and human security. Forests contribute immensely to economic growth, employment, wealth creation, export revenues and are a livelihood source for communities,” he said.
Beyai who was represented by the UNDP Senior Regional Technical Adviser, Elsie Attafuah said: “ Engaging different sectors and actors with  various interest together is important as the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are mostly outside the forest sector, including sectors such as agriculture, mining, energy and infrastructure.”

The Federal Director of Forestry, Mr. Philip  Bankole called on stakeholders to embrace interventions that will help to reverse the growing rate of deforestation in the country, which is the highest in the world.

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Ben AyadeUN-REDD
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