Minister of State for Environment, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor has said that available statistics show that about 400,000 hectares of forest is lost annually through human activities and other unsustainable practices.
The Minister said this in a keynote address at the flag-off of the current National Forest Policy (NFP) to mark the International Day of Forest (IDF) on Friday in Abuja.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that the national target of increasing the total forest cover from 10% to 25% by 2022 and the various international commitments failed, while the country’s forest area continued to decline from 10% in 1970 to less than 8% today.
The Minister said the occasion of the International Day of Forest (IDF) was aimed at creating awareness on forests presents to the nation her advancement in renewable natural resources management through the current National Forest Policy.
She said that loss of forestry leaves a devastating effects on social-economic lifestyle of rural dwellers due to over dependence on forest products for their livelihood in addition to environmental impacts.
The Minister presented the 2006 National Forest Policy which sets out strategies for growing the sector.
She said: “These included provision for sustainable management and utilization of the forest resources, public and private sector enhanced participation, ecosystem goods and services, equitable and fair benefit sharing and cross-sectorial engagements.”
Ikeazor said there was an increased awareness of the environmental, social, cultural and economic values of forestry, against the declining and unsustainably managed national forest resources.
She said the forestry sector remained an important natural capital asset in the attainment of the national development objectives of Nigeria, particularly in the generation of economic activities, employment, poverty reduction, provision of goods and services and environmental security and sustainability.
She said: “There are also a number of international commitments relevant to sustainable management of the forest and its significance at addressing climate change.
“In the light of the many emerging concerns and imperatives, and the importance of the forestry sector to the people and our nation, the process for reviewing the 2006 National Forest Policy was initiated in 2017 and completed with the adoption and approval by the National Council on Environment (NCE) in November, 2019. The policy was finally approved at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in July 2020.
“The revised 2020 National Forest Policy sets out strategies for growing the sector further and addressing emerging environmental issues like climate change resulting from increased population with its attendant pressure on the forests and its resources.
Contemporary development priorities dictated a revision of the policy hence presenting it to you today as guide in the forest and other related sectors.
The policy is guided by a vision of sustainable management of forest ecosystems, socio-economic growth, environmental sustainability and provision of goods and services for domestic purposes and export for the benefit of the nation.
The guiding principles are centered on Sustainable Forest Management and National development agenda of poverty reduction, improved livelihood, sustainable development, good forest governance, transparency and accountability, biodiversity conservation, sustainable provision of forest goods and services as well as value chain addition, and fulfilment of international commitments.
The policy enunciated relevant strategies in line with globally accepted priority areas of Sustainable Forest Management which are; Extent of Forest Resources, Biodiversity, Forest Health And Vitality, Protection Functions of Forests, Productive Functions of Forests, Socio-Economic Functions of Forest; and Legal, Policy and Institutional Framework.
She said the present administration in pursuance of its mandate was committed to deliver equitable dividend of democracy, poverty eradication, food security, sustainable development.
She said: “Climate change mitigation and adaptation towards enhancement of our community’s inclusiveness in Sustainable Forest Management, biodiversity conservation, socio-economic, cultural and ecotourism.
“Permit me to acknowledge the contributions and commitments of the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies through their respective representatives to the actualization of this revised policy.”
She appreciated Sustainability and Conservation education for Rural Areas (SCERA) and FAO for their support towards the success of the event.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Engineer Hassan Musa called on all stakeholders and the larger society to join hands with the government to tackle the challenges of deforestation and unsustainable use of forest resources.
He explained that this year’s event was delayed in order to include the launching of the National Forest Policy which is a necessary tool for the growth and development of the Forestry sector.
He said: “As you are all aware, the sustainable management of forest resources enhances economic, social and environmental values of all types of forests for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Forest is one of nature’s most efficient and complex ecosystems in the world. The importance of forests cannot be underestimated as we depend on it for our 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, climate change mitigation among others.
“Deforestation on the other hand is a global threat to human survival. Its impacts as you all know ranges from flooding, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, desertification, global warming, to mention just the few with its attendant negative consequences on human wellbeing and socio economic development.
“You will agree with me that the spate of these challenges has continued to soar in recent years resulting in poverty, job loss, food shortage and insecurity.
“Nigeria joined 104 other world leaders at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change tagged COP26 held in Glasgow to pledge to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
“This pledge reiterates and reaffirms the role of forests balancing greenhouse gas emissions and removals, it will also help the adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change, maintenance of healthy ecosystem services thus ensuring sustained production and consumption regimes of the earth’s forest resources
“Advancing sustainable production and consumption of our for will require turning declarations and pledges into transformative act These actions must respond to current and future challenges to drive kind of transformative changes required to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.”