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FG sets to tackle unlawful forest activities

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By Mercy Kelani

A Joint Task Force has been set up to ensure adherence to regulations.

The Nigerian Government has rededicated its commitment to address unlawful forest activities across the 36 States it governs. There are established standards and guidelines that will guarantee sustainable forest management and oversee the sector to expand revenue generation for Nigeria. Mr. Ibrahim Yusufu, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Environment, affirmed this at the workshop on Operationalisation of the Forestry Inter-Ministerial Joint Task Force (FIM-JIF) that was held in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the subject matter of “exploitation of Forest Resources”.

He asserted that a Joint Task Force was set up to ensure players and investors in the sector adhere to the forest regulations, standards and laws to prevent environmental degradation, illegal logging and wildlife crime by bringing saneness to the forestry sector. Mr. Ibrahim stated that Nigeria is being challenged by various environmental conditions such as land degradation, deforestation and others as a result of unsustainable logging activities, just like the suspension in 2018 on wood and other export products without considering forest rebuilding.

JTF is expected to restore sanity in the forestry sector.

As a result of this, Barr. Mohammed H. Abdullahi, the former Honorable Minister of Environment, lifted the ban and restored the functional procedures to ensure the sector achieve its Sustainable Forest Management. He highlighted the measures, and one of them is the creation and launching of the JTF under the former Minister who was represented by Mr. Charles Ikeah, the Director who is overseeing the office of Permanent Secretary, on January 18, 2023. His major point on JTF is to ensure restoration of sanity to the forestry sector and obedience to its laws and regulations.

Mohammed stated that it is crucial to maintain and sustain forest continuality for the provision of various products and services for the present and future generations. He affirmed that JTF would provide aid by reversing the sorry state of the forest in Nigeria with proper sustainability, management and assurance for future services and products. The Permanent Secretary asserted that it is necessary for members of the reconstituted Inter-Ministerial Joint Task Force to hold a meeting and discuss the operations and strategies for JTF surveillance.

Illegal activities can be curbed with commitment to guidelines.

In his speech, he said that it is apparent that the states play important roles in the forestry sector for being guardians or custodians of the forests. He explained that illegal activities in the states can be dealt with using the vast experience of the states alongside with the Ministry’s efforts and the private sector, if the bodies are committed to the duty and complying with the Standards and Guidelines which will aid the regulation and sustainability for forest management and would be an increase in revenue generation for the country.

Mr. Yusufu added that the workshop’s priority is to curb unlawful exploitation of the forest which has destroyed and affected the rich biodiversity of the country, and impeded the complete realization of the country’s potential. He noted that the workshop will deliberate on productive partnership with the states to make sure that there is complete compliance to policies, guidelines and rules by all authorized forest users of different states and at the national level with a strict mandate to monitor, arrest and handover any lawbreaker to the right authorities.

With JTF, the Nigerian forest will be free from illegality.

Additionally, the Federal Ministry of Environment is arranging measures such as NTLS, functional JTF and the guidelines for efficient utilization, management and monitoring that will be viable socially, environmentally and economically for the country by adapting to the usage of international best practices. Mrs. Hajara Umar Sami, the Director of Forestry Ministry of Environment, affirmed that truly the workshop was established to protect the Nigerian forest against illegality. Also, Mr. John Daniel, the Head of Wildlife Management at the Department of Forestry Ministry of Environment, added that necessary provisions has been made by the government for functionality of the JTF. Mr. Dotun Ogundeji, Representative of Charcoal Exporters Industry, stated that government policy for guidelines and sustainability will be strictly adhered to by the Charcoal exporters.

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