The Federal Government on Friday, April 8, 2022, inaugurated the National Forest Policy for sustainable forest management and promoting good forest governance to improve livelihood in the country.
Chief Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State for Environment, while inaugurating the forest policy and commemoration of International Day of Forest in Abuja, said the policy would reduce poverty in the country.
Ikeazor said the policy would sustain management of forest ecosystems, environment, socio-economic growth and provision of goods and services for domestic purposes and export for the benefit of the nation.
“The guiding principles are centred on sustainable forest and national development agenda of poverty reduction, good forest governance, transparency and accountability.
“The policy is also for biodiversity conservation, sustainable provision of forest goods and services as well as value chain additional and fulfilment of international commitments.
“The policy enunciated relevant strategies in line with globally accepted priority areas of sustainable forest management, which include extent of forest resource, forest health and vitality among others.
“The national target of increasing the total forest covered from 10 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022 and the various international commitments appears a daunting task.’’
Ikeazor, however, said that the Federal Government was committed to deliver equitable dividend of democracy, poverty eradication, food security, sustainable development, climate change mitigation and adaptation.
She said that effort was to enhance community`s inclusiveness in sustainable forest management.
The minister said the forest sector remained an important natural capital asset in the attainment of the national development objectives of the country.
She, however, appreciated the effort of international commitment on sustainable management of the forest, adding that its significance would enhance addressing climate change in the country.
Mr Hassan Musa, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said the national day of forest “is celebrated every March 21, declared by UN General Assembly to create awareness on the importance of forests to mankind.’’
He said that the 2022 theme is tagged: “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption’’, adding that the event was delayed for effective preparation of the inauguration of the policy.
He said that the national forest policy was a necessary tool for the growth and development of the forest sector.
He expressed worry over the high rate of deforestation, adding that it was a global threat to human survival and its impacts ranged from flooding, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, global warming among others.
“The spate of these challenges has continued to soar in recent years resulting to poverty, job loss, food shortage and insecurity.
“Advancing sustainable production and consumption of our forests will require turning declarations and pledges into transformative actions.
“These actions must respond to current and future challenges to drive the kind of transformative changes required to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030,’’ he said.
Adesuwa Obasuyi, Climate Change Policy Manager at the British High Commission, who represented Sean Melbourne, the Head of Climate Change and Energy, West Africa, stated that the UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post 2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP15 in China later this year, and supporting ambitious global targets to bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030 – including targets to ensure at least 30% of land and ocean is protected, ecosystems are restored, species population sizes are recovering and that, by 2059, extinctions are halted.
On Nigeria, she said: “In the past years, Nigeria has taken positive strides to protect and manage forests. Nigeria has endorsed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and the Global Oceans Alliance. Nigeria has been engaged in the COP26 Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) and Sustainable Agriculture Dialogues. At COP26, it endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. We are therefore delighted to see more efforts aimed at implementing forest management priorities.”
The UK, according to her, is taking action on ground to support Nigeria on the implementation.
“In Edo State, we are supporting a just rural transition to sustainable agriculture through our Partnerships for Forests programme; and in Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa states, we are supporting pilot projects on growing rice using less water and producing less methane.
“We are also supporting access to organic fertiliser in Northern Nigeria. In Cross River, Bauchi, Taraba and Adamawa states, we are supporting activities to improve forest governance and provide protection for endangered species such as elephants, pangolins and chimpanzees,” she disclosed.
Commend Nigeria on the launch of the Forest Policy, Obasuyi stressed that the policy joins other existing policy measures, such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and the Climate Change Act.
“Developing the plans are important but what is more important is robust implementation and we hope that the challenges facing the forest sector and the implementation barriers of policies in the sector are addressed so that the contribution of the forest sector to national development goes above what it currently is,” she noted.
By Vivian Emoni