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World Bank urges Nigeria to protect forest


Cross River forests… under threat from the super highway project

On the heels of President Muhammadu Buhari ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change last week, the World Bank has charged Nigeria to protect its remaining rainforest in Cross River State.

The Practice Manager for Environment at the World Bank Office, Washington DC, Dr. Benoit Bosquest who gave the charge during a courtesy visit to the Cross River State governor, said: “Among the measures that Nigeria has pledged to take, is to play its part by contributing to climate change mitigation through the protection of the forest”.

On Reducing Emission, Deforestation and Forest Degradation. (REDD+), which Cross River is the pioneering state in Nigeria, he explained that “as your partner, technical and financial, we want to ensure that the activities are being implemented to your satisfaction and the satisfaction of the people of Cross River State.”

“Nigeria is a country that is in the process of ratifying the so called Paris Agreement on climate change that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari and once this is ratified by the National Assembly, it becomes an international commitment for Nigeria.

“It is very important that the forest in Cross River State is properly managed and protected as a contribution to this global effort to mitigate climate change which is today the greatest challenge we face as humans.”

Bosquest who was in Calabar to inspect NEWMAP erosion projects in Calabar, said: “We are very much looking forward to continuing to support you in your effort to protect the forest.”

Responding, Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade who described the team’s visit as timely, stated that the two programmes go beyond environmental issues, and that they deal directly on the livelihood and the very existence of the continent.

He explained that “as communities continuously cut down the trees for a means of livelihood, they expose the soil to direct harshness of the sun which dries up the micro nutrients in the soil and slows or totally stops the growth of the plants. This makes the family to move away to find other means of livelihood which sometimes are criminal.”

Accordingly, Ayade sued for speedy implementation of the REDD+ programme in the state noting that “REDD+ is now at the implementation stage. That is why the host communities are saying look, you have told us not to touch our trees, not to touch the forest but REDD+ philosophy is allowing you to utilize your forest without compromising its capacity to protect

His words: “Here we are because of the absolute ban, our forest bearing communities no longer have access to the forest and no livelihood, so, they waited on REDD+.“The governor pleaded with him to fast track REDD+ towards the implementation phase so that the people can take advantage of and can equally say really that World Bank cares. And that it not just about preserving the forest, but we can also give them a livelihood for preserving the forest.”

Governor Ayade noted that at the implementation phase, the communities will then have a project, a contract, a salary by planting, maintaining and nursing trees. That is very critical because you must link your REDD+ with livelihood.”

He stressed that “as a state, we are the leading examples , we are committed, we are dedicated and ready to ensure the protection of our God-given forest and I can assure you that the people of Cross River know that if we tamper with our forest, Nigeria as a whole will suffer because Cross River state holds in high esteem 60 per cent of the entire natural forest cover.”

In this article:
Ben AyadeBenoit Bosquest
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