The Charcoal Export Legality and Compliance Group, in collaboration with the Federal Government, has flagged off symbolic tree planting project in Iseyin area of Oyo State to address the challenges of climate change in Nigeria.
The tree planting project is supported by the Department of Forestry in the Federal Ministry of Environment and Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN).
In his remarks at the exercise, the Minister of Environment, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, said that the aforestation project embarked upon by the group was in line with the national forest policy of the Federal Government.
Abdullahi, represented by the Deputy Director, Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that the project was in fulfilment of requirements for Nigeria timber legality standard for wood export.
He said that Federal Government lifted the ban on wood and charcoal export in January in recognition of ecological, social, cultural and economic functions of the forest products to make full potential of the forestry sector to be known.
According to him, Federal Government decided to put some measures in place for the export to continue.
He said: “Part of the measures stipulates that the wood export groups must embark on aforestation, a return to forest initiative whereby the group would plant trees back.
“The Nigeria timber legality standard is set up to make sure that all the trees that are leaving the country are legal wood.
“The aforestation project by Charcoal Export Legality group is a compliance to both the national forest policy and Nigeria timber legality standard.”
The minister said that climate change posed a big threat to the entire world, adding, aforestation plays critical roles in addressing the challenges of climate change.
He, then urged every citizen to plant trees in his or her neighbourhood to combat climate change.
Also, Mrs Omolola Idowu, President, Charcoal Export Legality and Compliance Group of Independent Companies, said that aim of the group is to ensure charcoal export legality in the country.
Idowu said the group stands on legal process of getting charcoal business done lawfully and creating a traceability system where exporters would be accountable for the environment.
She said that tree planting project embarked upon by the group was in fulfilment of the annual reforestation pledge made by the group to Federal Government.
Idowu said that the group had also developed a portal for effective tracing of Nigeria forest products.
“Today, each member of our association starts planting a minimum of one hectare every year. We are going to make Nigeria a reforestation giant of Africa.
“We are starting with four different tree species. We have a 10-year strategy because trees take a long time to mature and part of our strategy is to plant fast speed growing specialised seedlings.
“We are in partnership with the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) for the supply of fast growing specialised seedlings that will grow fast within three to four years and reach maturity in five to six years.
“We believe if we continue with this pace, in 10 years’ time, we should be able to have 100 per cent forest management and export legality,” Idowu said.
Commenting, the FRIN Director-General, Dr Zacharia Buba-Yaduma, said that charcoal legality was a step forward to check the illegal activities of people exploiting the forest without replanting.
Buba-Yaduma said that the initiative would also play enormous role in tackling challenges of climate change.
He called on other forest products groups to emulate charcoal export legality and compliance group to jointly make Nigeria green.
The tree planting exercise was followed by send-off ceremony for the outgoing FRIN DG, Prof. Olushola Adepoju, and welcome ceremony for the new, Buba-Yaduma.
By Olatunde Ajayi