Several weeks of an assessment assignment by government officials to seven states is set to produce a triumvirate that will join in implementing the REDD+ Programme in Nigeria.
Forestry officers in Edo, Delta, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Plateau and Oyo states are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a roughly month-long scoping mission to their enclaves by the Nigeria REDD+ Programme, which is seeking to add three more states to the trio of Cross River, Nasarawa and Ondo that are already neck-deep in the scheme.
REDD+ stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Cross River, Ondo and Nasarawa states, being beneficiaries of a $3.8 million funding of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), are already implementing a REDD+ Readiness Programme, and it has been the desire of the Nigeria REDD+ Programme to expand the project to more states.
The Programme’s dream became a reality following the approval of an additional $4.9 million grant by the FCPF, an initiative of the World Bank, to extend the REDD+ Programme to more states.
Consequently, erstwhile Environment Minister of State, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, wrote to the 33 states, requesting them to formally express their interest to be a part of the initiative. However, 17 states replied to express interest in participating in the REDD+ Programme.
They are Edo, Delta, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Plateau, Oyo, Kaduna, Enugu, Katsina, Bauchi, Jigawa, Lagos, Gombe, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia states.
An evaluation of the 17 states in terms of those with the most impressive prospects reduced the number to seven, who were recently subjected to a scoping process to enable the project promoters select the target three.
The scoping mission was conducted in two phases by two separate teams.
The first team, which assessed Edo, Delta, Imo and Akwa Ibom states, comprised Dr Moses Amah (National Coordinator, Nigeria REDD+ Programme), Ochuko Odibo (Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, Nigeria REDD+ Programme), Kingsley Nwawuba (Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist, Nigeria REDD+ Programme), Ben Ariyo (Representative of Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment), Hauwa Umar (Gender and Livelihood Officer, REDD+ Programme), Michael Simire (Environmental/Media Consultant & Independent Assessor), Chinwe Adindu (REDD+ Programme Support Staff) and Doris Okafor (Representative of the Director of Forestry).
The second phase entailed visits to Ogun, Oyo and Plateau states and the mission was conducted by the team comprising Dr Moses Amah, Okibe Richard (Communication, REDD+ Programme), Rasak Kolawole Adekola (MRV Specialist), Tijani Ahmad Zakirai (SESA & Safegaurds Officer), Abdullahi Yakubu (Technical Support Officer), Kamiyo Femi (Procurement Officer), Odutola Olalekan (Representative of the Permanent Secretary) and Igbinosa Osakue (Representative of the Director of Forestry).
Dr Ama disclosed during the scoping mission to Benin City, Edo State, that some of the criteria to be used to select the three REDD+ participatory states include:
- Having the political will
- Operating community forest management approaches
- Operating functional forest reserves/estates
- Having in place stakeholder engagement strategies
He pointed out that, apart from expanding the project to three more states, the $4.9 million World Bank grant would likewise be utilised to:
- Develop a National Forestry Monitoring System
- Put in place a Safeguard Information Systems (SIS)
- Support policy reforms that will address REDD+
- Update the nation’s Carbon Inventory
- Build capacity
During the scoping mission, officials of the states visited made disclosures on their forestry development strategies.
For instance, the Edo State Government disclosed that:
- Governor Godwin Obaseki has approved the release of funds for the maintenance of 30 hectares of established forest plantation in the three Senatorial Districts of the state, and directed the raising of four million seedlings that will be planted by every household
- A new Forest Policy and programmes have been drafted along with revised Forestry Laws and Framework for the proposed Forestry Commission which will be in place as soon as the State House of Assembly passes the Law for its establishment
- Sawmill owners/Licensees currently planting up one Forest Compartment (256 hectares) each in the four zones of South-South of Edo State with forest tree
- There is an on-going sensitisation and enlightenment of the rural populace in the adjoining communities along the Forest Reserves to desist from illegal encroachment in the Reserves
- 25 hectares were recently demarcated as well as the supply of 50,000 seedlings for Africa Initiatives for Peace in Ehor Forest Reserve Area to support the organisation in continuation of the one million trees planting project under the sponsorship of an international donor, Bernadette Strebel.
In Ogun State, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Forestry, Mr Dolapo Akinwunmi, said that, under the Land Degradation Neutrality, the state entered into a public-private partnership agreement with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and Lafarge Holding in 2015 to initiate a transformative scheme called forest landscape restoration project.
The project, according to him, is intended to increase the current tree cover of Imeko and Aworo forest reserves from 10 to 80 percent by 2030, through the planting of about 20 million indigenous and commercial trees, among other benefits.
He commended the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Environment’s REDD+ Programme, which he said had added positive values to the preservation of forest resources in the country.
While commending the state for sustaining afforestation values in its forest reserves, Dr. Ama lamented the negative impact of deforestation on the country and called for immediate action by all stakeholders to tackle the challenge for proper preservation of forest reserves.
In Oyo State, Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Chief Isaac Ishola, stated that government has put strategies in place to curb the heightened rate of deforestation and forest degradation that has ravaged the state’s forest resources.
While identifying community involvement, agroforestry, regulations and laws as critical instruments for conserving forests in the state, the Commissioner stated that the state has 38,454 Km2 of land of which 26,012 Km2 is arable land. He disclosed that Oyo has nine forest reserves, which include Afara, Olashiyede, Gambiri, Ola-hill (now Okoiro), Ijaye, Oso, Ologomeji and Aleyele.
He said: “As part of the government’s commitment to forestry matters, there is a ban on exportation of charcoal in the state to allow the forest to regenerate. Also, the state has adopted the Charcoal Policy Guideline and has put model in place to regulate charcoal production in the State.
“There is also an enforcement of forest protection laws to prevent extinction of endangered species of flora and fauna. Also, processes are under way to convert the Aleyele Forest Reserve to a recreational centre as a means of conservation.”
In Delta State, Mrs. Charity Ehimen, Director, Forestry Department, Ministry of Environment, listed ongoing forest interventions to include:
- Establishment of nurseries of fast-growing species for regeneration and supply of tree seeds and seedlings for forest reserves and development of Free Forest.
- Restoration and rehabilitation of deforested and degraded forest Area through replanting.
- Management of forest reserves and plantation.
- Production of eco-stoves to curb deforestation
- Installation of biogas digesters to reduce the use of firewood in the state
She added: “Delta State in the management of the forest resources has been very proactive, demonstrating key indices, especially the political will, for participation in the on-going REDD+ programme in Nigeria.
“The state has actively taken part in all the REDD+ workshops and the REDD+ University training programme in Abuja and Calabar respectively, since 2011 till date.
“The state had before now shown interest in becoming one of the REDD+ states in the federation, and we hope that this time around we will be selected among the three states to be included in the next phase of REDD+ programme in Nigeria.”