Communities key to Nigeria’s forestation agenda - CNBC Africa

Communities key to Nigeria’s forestation agenda

Western Africa

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”Community forest management techniques would be the best way because communities depend on the forest, they know that the preservation is in their own interests, it’s what they depend on for food – these are the people who are in the frontlines and are best empowered to keep their forest,” Environmental Rights Action’s executive director, Nnimmo Bassey, told CNBC Africa on Tuesday.

According to the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) programme, the current deforestation rate in Nigeria is estimated at 3.7 per cent.

It is one of the highest rates in the world but Nigeria, which became a partner country of the UN-REDD programme in February 2010, has put a plan in place to curb this trend.

The country aims to achieve REDD readiness by developing institutional and technical capacities at federal level as well as carrying out intense institutional, strategy-building and demonstration activities in its Cross River State.

The UN-REDD in Nigeria, partnered with the ministry of environment, has a budget of four million US dollars to use between 2012 and 2014 to combat deforestation in the country. Bassey however, feels that the programme presents a challenge, not a solution.

“The programme does not on its own reduce deforestation. It’s a business idea, the idea of stopping deforestation is something that needs to be pursued on its own ground not based on any market mechanisms, not based on carbon credit,” he said.   

“The Nigerian government has a forestry department whose job includes ensuring that degraded forests are restored. The government has over the years, especially in the nineties, set up national parks, there are also national reserves so these are attempts to keep forests intact.”