The Minister of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman, has called on stakeholders to collaborate with government in efforts to restore the integrity of the country’s forestry sector and protect wildlife resources.
The minister made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at a workshop on National Forest Investment Programme (NFIP) for the implementation of West Africa Forest Convergence Plan.
Usman, who was represented by Mr Asuquo Enile, Director of General Services, Ministry of Environment, attributed the current state of forests across the country to indiscriminate deforestation, degradation, poaching and trafficking of wild flora.
He said that these untoward human activities had reduced the ability of the forests to supply products and play their role of protecting water bodies, biodiversity conservation, wildlife habitats and carbon sinks.
He noted that most of the forest reserves and trees on production landscape were managed without basic management principles.
The minister said that allocations of timber resources were no longer based on technical considerations but on political patronage.
Usman said that government, after considering all the loopholes, would provide the enabling environment and funds to encourage meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders in efforts to attain sustainable utilisation of forest resources.
“The meeting must consider the fact that deforestation and forest degradation negatively affect the ecosystem.
“The meeting must come up with investment opportunities and financial actions to achieve sustainable forest management for income generation and poverty reduction,’’ he said.
The FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr Suffyan Koroma, said that for the successful implementation of the NFIP, FAO had provided the necessary support for ECOWAS states in the development of the roadmap.
He said taht the main objective of the workshop was for participants to review and improve the draft NFIP document, prior to its adoption as advocacy and resource mobilisation tools at all levels.
Koroma, who was represented by Hajiya Sadiya Ibrahim, an official of FAO, said that the workshop would also conduct substantive discussions of the forest investment programme for 2018-2022 and revise the investment requirements.
He said that the expected results of the workshop included how the prioritisation and estimation of the cost of the priority national actions were analysed and improved.
He said that the roadmap for the effective implementation of the NFIP would also be established.
To achieve this, Koroma said that FAO had also strategically engaged key stakeholders in the environment sector to implement interventions that would reduce deforestation and degradation without having adverse consequences on the environment.
He, therefore, urged participants to review and improve the draft NFIP document so as to put in place a good roadmap for the effective implementation of the plan.
Dr Johnson Boanuh, the Director of Environment Directorate, ECOWAS, said that the workshop was aimed at reviewing and improving the draft investment plan for validation by the national actors.
He said that the workshop would also serve as tools for advocacy and resource mobilisation for sustainable forest management at the country level.
“In the last two years, 14 national forest programmes have been prepared, leading to the successful validation of 11 of the programmes.
“The 12th in the series is to examine and enrich the draft document by the stakeholders for its use as an advocacy and resource mobilisation tool for sustainable forest management at the country level,’’ he said.
Newsmen report that the participants of the two-day workshop were drawn from ministries of environment across the country as well as other relevant agencies.