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Communities fear government take-over of forests

By Dotun Ibiwoye
As the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) mechanism intensifies operation in its pilot areas in Cross River State some residents in the communities are nursing  fears that their lands could be taken over by the government.

They want the federal government to take caution in its operation in with the UN programme.

In reaction to the communities uncertainty, the Chairman of the State Forestry Commission, Odigha Odigha stressed that the UN-REDD programme does not threaten anyone’s land, and that  enlightenment will clear  doubts.

According to Odigha, REDD+ is an environmental finance mechanism designed to address forest conservation within the framework of sustainable development.

It is a process aimed at using market/financial incentives to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD credits offer the opportunity to utilise funding from developed countries to reduce deforestation in developing countries.

Odigha said: “I also live in one of the communities in Cross River State and it can be seen by everyone that the UN-REDD programme is a transparent process. Nobody is taking anyone’s land. The inhabitants of the forest community would have been enlightened and have understood how to verify carbon.

“Carbon verification is necessary because the forest is a great resource with great potential of economic inflow to the state. Everyone can take a look and see for themselves the amount of deforestation that have taken place in our forest in Cross Rivers State.”

He added further: “With reference to the sudden panic of some people, there has been no change of tenure or taking over of any land. Whatever anyone is saying anywhere is speculative.”

The REDD areas in Cross River State covers Ekuri, Iko Esai, Okorori, Etara, Efeyen, Owai and Ukpan Rivers spanning three Local Government Areas.


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