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Climate Watch: The REDD opportunity for Nigeria

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By Rotimi Ajayi

Since Nigeria commenced efforts at putting together programmes and strategies to combat climate change, Friday October 14, 2011 turned out to be its most glorious day ever.

That day, in the historic city of Berlin, Germany, Nigeria recorded a monumental achievement in its climate change programme by getting approval of the United Nations for its efforts at reducing emission of the dangerous gas responsible for global warming through controlling of illegal logging and sustainable management of the nation’s Forest.

The programme is formally known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

REDD+ is one of the approved mechanism by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to contain global emission of dangerous gases which have been notching up the world temperature and causing dangerous changes to the Climate.

In a more simple term, REDD+ is the UN mechanism for financial reward of forest-based communities and countries which protects its forest thereby enhancing the stock of carbon stored away from the atmosphere through sustainable forest management and land use(hence the +). Nigeria started the REDD+ journey in January 2010 when it formally applied to the UN-REDD as observer nation preparatory to putting together its Programme for approval.

Following its being recognised as observer nation, the then Minister of Environment John Odey selected a crack team that would ensure that Nigeria’s REDD programmed is well put together and pushed aggressively for approval by the UN-REDD. Speaking at the REDD partnership meeting hosted by Norway in May between May 26 and 27, 2010, Odey underscored the importance of REDD+ as a climate change mitigation programme which Africans can key into as global partners in climate change battle.

He said, “Nigeria recognizes that support for developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is a critical factor in the efforts towards developing national strategies for climate change mitigation in such countries.

In its determination to place REDD+ in the larger national development context, the Government of Nigeria initiated a process for multi-stakeholder sensitization and awareness on the significance of REDD+, with a view to preparing grounds for its National REDD+ which will be structured along newly approved National Forest Policy.

“Nigeria is well endowed with forest resources, accounting for about 2.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Products. The resources abound in the high forests, woodlands, bush lands, plantations and trees on farmlands. The forests occupy about 10 million hectares representing almost 10 percent of the total land area of 92 377 hectares.

“This total is made up of about 445 gazetted Reserves, distributed over the main ecological zones of fresh water or mangrove, the lowland rainforest, the derived savannah and the sahel-sudan savannah. More than 5 percent of the total land area is devoted to wildlife conservation and is also distributed across the major ecological zones.

“The forest estates from which wood and other products are obtained have been subjected to severe encroachments, vegetation degradation and de-reservation for agriculture, industrial development and urbanisation among others.

“Reports have clearly shown that Nigeria is experiencing an annual rate of deforestation of about 3.5%, resulting from illegal and uncontrolled logging, incessant and uncontrolled bush burning, overgrazing, unsustainable fuel wood gathering, oil spillage from exploration activities, inappropriate agricultural practices and disjointed infrastructural development programmes. These have caused environmental degradation in alarming magnitudes in different parts of the country.”

In order to address the problems of deforestation, forest degradation, desertification and climate change effects, a new National Forestry Policy (NFP) was developed, with the aim of promoting stakeholder participation in forest resource management; strengthening institutional capacity, research and regulation; and enhancement of forest industry development, with emphasis on increased involvement of communities in Participatory Forest Management schemes nationwide.

After the Oslo meeting, the Minister immediately inaugurated the National Technical Group on Nigeria-REDD. The committee comprises professionals ranging from Forest experts, Forest Preservation marketers, Forest Developers to Environmental Communications Experts.

Inaugurating the Committee, Mr Odey said, “It is important to note that the establishment of the National Technical Committee on REDD+ is the outcome of collaborative discussions Nigeria held with UN-REDD Agencies including UNDP, UN-REDD Secretariat, UNEP, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and several Development Partners, including Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and United States of America.

Thus, the Committee will be working closely with these Agencies and Development Partners in carrying out its assignments.”

The Committee moved into action immediately and working with the Agencies above, it put together articulate Nigeria-REDD programme which was endorsed by the Policy Board at the Berlin Meeting, its 7th, upper week.

Now that the Nigeria-REDD Programme has been approved, the onus is now on the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Environment to actively engage the States and Local Government areas who are original repositories of Forest so as to make them buy into the National REDD Strategies.

REDD, as designed, has come off as the most visible and beneficial window that ordinary Nigerians can relate to away from the transcendentalism of Climate Change terms.

According to Ewah Eleri of ICEED, this would create green jobs and make Nigeria’s engagement at international climate talks reflect the needs of ordinary Nigerians in the areas of poverty reduction. Just as the United Nations Development Programme actively supported the process leading to the approval of the Nigeria REDD programme, the development Agency has also signified its readiness to make Nigeria states key into the REDD programme.


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