Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, has said that the new National Forest Policy (NFP) recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will assist the country in the sustainable management of its vast forest resources.
He added that the NFP would also help to preserve Nigeria’s rich ecosystems as well as boost the current efforts of addressing various climate change challenges in the country.
Dr. Abubakar noted that the policy, which was approved on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 by FEC, had earlier been subjected to reviews by various stakeholders before it was endorsed and adopted by the National Council on Environment (NCE) in November 2019, after assessing its diverse benefits.
According to him, the new policy is anchored on the need for continuous socio-economic development that provides optimal benefits to the people and government of Nigeria in a sustainably managed environment that would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is guided by a vision of sustainable management of forest ecosystems, socio-economic growth, environmental sustainability and provision of goods and services for domestic and export purposes, all for the nation’s benefit,” he stated.
Dr. Mahmood Abubakar regretted that the country’s forest area has been on a continuous decline since 1970, having dropped from 10% to 6% presently, noting that its contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is increasing, as revenue is being generated through controlled export of wood and other forest products.
He opined that “unsustainable exploitation, deforestation, extensive agriculture, population growth, infrastructural development, fuel wood extraction, forest fires, and obsolete National Forest Policy, are some of the factors responsible for the decline in the country’s forest resources.”
The minister disclosed that the 2006 National Forest Policy sets strategies for growing the sector but did not take cognisance of emerging and contemporary development needs and has thus become obsolete.
“Moreover, the national target of increasing Nigeria’s total forest cover from 10% to 25% by 2020, and the need to use forests as a veritable carbon sink to address climate change, make it necessary to review the 2006 National Forest Policy to a new policy that is all inclusive and in line with current global standard.“
He noted that the forestry sector remains an important natural capital asset in the attainment of national development objectives, particularly in boosting economic activities, employment creation, income generation, provision of goods and services, poverty reduction, environmental security and sustainability.
Mahmood Abubakar equally added that the overall objective of the NFP is to achieve sustainable management of forests and forest resources, that would ensure sustainable increase in the economic, social and environmental benefits for the country’s present and future generations.