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Nigeria experiences excessive forest loss

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By Mercy Kelani

Climate Change and COP28: The Way Forward for Nigeria — seminar theme.

At COP28, environmentalists disclosed a matter of urgent concern. This concern was focused on the massive annual forest loss of Nigeria, which has been recorded as the highest on an international scale. In a seminar that was put together by Development Agenda Magazine and EMCAN in Abuja, experts stressed that there are dire consequences of illegitimate tree logging in Nigerian states like Cross Rivers, Ogun, Ondo States, as well as the North-central region of the country.

The theme of COP28 seminar was “Climate Change and COP28: The Way Forward for Nigeria.” The seminar emphasized the need to address the total daily felling of 1.5 million trees, which is said to contribute to the 3.5 percent deforestation rate, on an annual basis. The welcome address at the seminar was given by the Publisher and Editor-in-chief of Development Agenda Magazine, Paddy Ezeala. In his speech, he decried the massive destruction that is happening in various states across the country.

3.7M hectares of forest was lost between 1981 and 2000.

He highlighted the worsening impact of a foreign-owned charcoal factory, located in Nsukka, Enugu State. Ezeala stressed the lack of a valuation system for forest resources as he advocated for sufficient compensation for reckless destruction. The Editor-in-chief stated that Nigeria lost 3.7 million hectares of forest between 1981 and 2000. This loss, according to him, has resulted in a colossal biodiversity loss. Ezeala further encouraged a transition towards socially and environmentally equitable approaches of forest management.

Furthermore, he stressed that there is a need to ensure an end to the continuous destruction of forests across the nation. Also, Paddy Ezeala called for the harnessing of the potential of forests to aid scientific and eco-tourism research. This will put a total end to illegal wildlife trafficking and logging. He added that the remaining rainforests in Nigeria hosts approximately 4,000 unique wildlife and plant species. These rainforests were regarded as significant resources for sustainable development.

National parks have a role to play in mitigating climate change.

Ibrahim Usman Jibril, the Emir of Nasarawa, noted that there are also environmental challenges that worsen the situation. These challenges include rising sea levels, deforestation, desertification, climate change, and drought, all affecting the country. Dr. Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General of the National Parks Service, also emphasized that national parks have an essential role to play in the mitigation and curbing of climate change. However, the establishment of new national parks received legal approval in 2020.

This approval of the new national parks were attributed to the delay in the release of the Ministry of Justice’s gazette. It was also recalled by Dr. Ibrahim Goni that the federal government of Nigeria had, in 2020, confirmed approval of the establishment of 10 new national parks to add to already existing parks within the country. Three years after the approval the parks have not taken-off. This situation, according to Goni, was as a result of the delay in the release of the Ministry of Justice’s official gazette.

Media should publish more stories about climate change.

According to the CG, the parks will be officially opened immediately after the release of gazette as the National Parks Service has gotten approval from the Federal Government. The Chairman of EMCAN, Chuks Oyema, stated that the purpose of the seminar was to display how Nigeria addresses climate change and the government’s preparation for COP28. Additionally, he implored the media to ensure to publish more stories about climate change and take collective actions to mitigate the effect of climate change on the Nigerian environment.

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