By Franklin Alli
THE federal government has been called upon to come up with legislation to tackle deforestation which stakeholders say is now threatening local sourcing of raw materials.
Vanguard learned that due to indiscriminate felling and burning of economic trees and deforestation in almost all forest reserves across the country over three million jobs have been lost in timber and wood production and processing under the Pulp, Paper and Paper Products, Publishing and Printing Sectoral Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN.
Dr. Frank Jacobs, MAN President, said: “It is important that the government pays close attention to afforestation in order to redress the situation. Forestry Research Institutes in the country should be empowered to effectively carry out their functions and legislation should be enacted and enforced, as the case may be, to check incessant felling of trees.
“As a result of other developmental needs, our forest reserves are rapidly being depleted as both economic and other trees are felled continuously.
“Forest gives us fresh air, clean water, wildlife and tranquil surroundings. But as we know, trees that grow in these forests also provide us with many products that we use in our daily life like paper towels and toilet paper, wood-based products and so on.
“This unfortunate situation (deforestation) is denying the country the opportunity of developing important raw materials derivable from trees such as latex, materials for making sponges, wine corks, chewing gum, car wax, hair dye, palm oil, cocoa, chocolates, etc.
Sustainable raw materials
“Similarly, we are denied plant-based ingredients for the development and production of sustainable raw materials which can be used for pharmaceuticals, bio plastics, bio-energy, and fine chemicals.
As a result of indiscriminate felling of trees, even bamboo trees which are useful for products like boards, baskets, toys, blinds, doors, and window frames, medicine, bathtubs, steamers, weapon, musical instruments, etc. are not spared,” he said.
According to the Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria, (TWEAN) the group has been liaising with relevant government authorities like the Federal Ministry of Environment on how best to cut woods from the nation’s forests without causing damages to the environment.
The Secretary – General of the group, Joseph Odiase, stated that the group has embarked on trees planting campaign with a view to arresting the menace of deforestation across the country.
The group in collaboration with some state governments has commenced the tree planting campaign starting with Ekiti and Ogun states.
At the campaign in Ogun State, the Minister of Environment, Hajia Amina Muhammed, disclosed that only 20 percent of the woods sourced from the nation’s forests are exported while the remaining 80 percent are consumed locally.