Expert tasks C’River Govt in protecting forest communities

Cross River State
Map of Cross River State in Southern part of Nigeria

PATRICK ABANG, Calabar –

The Executive Director of Development Concerns, (DEVCON), Dr. Martins Egot has called on the Cross River State Government to protect forest communities in the state.

Mr. Egot, a forest conservation expert made the call at the end of a workshop held in Calabar on Wednesday with the theme: “Understanding Community Perspective of the Cross River State Law 2010”.

The one-day workshop was organized by Development Concern (DEVCON) with support from Birdlife International through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (Birdlife-CEPF) for EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative and various communities.

The Executive Director lamented over the high rate of illegal forest activities and wanton degradation of the remaining pristine rain forest of Cross River State that has resulted to complete social breakdown in communities, intra and inter communal conflicts, income loss, resource leakages, social exclusion, apathy among others.

According to him: “The organization also observe with disappointment the ineffectiveness of government institutional arrangements responsible for the policing of the Cross River State Forest estate, with an ineffective moratorium on logging which under normal circumstance would have been a veritable government measure for effective forest monitoring and management”.

“The organization wants review on logging with the view to putting in place a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management in the State”

“Adequately integrate the communities in the management of the forest in line with the provisions of the Cross River State forestry policy”.

“Provision of meaningful incentives for communities and groups supporting sustainable forest management, through sustainable livelihood options, and introduction of agroforestry practices”.

“Carry out intensive and targeted awareness raising campaign to instill the culture of conservation among all community groups”, he said.

Mr. Egot further called on the Cross River State Government and all development partners to urgently take bold steps to address the problem of forest loss, especially reviewing and lifting the moratorium, and put in place a sustainable forest management option for the state.

“Cross River State is our home, our only homeland is our ancestral communities, and our only resource the forest from which we derive our food, income, and resources for daily living. Our only reasonable choice therefore is to seek to protect it and we count on the Cross River State government and our development partners to support our aspirations for good forest governance in Cross River State”, he said.

The Executive Director of DEVCON, however, urged the forest communities to take charge of their forest, saying that “the forest will last long if you manage it well. With this training, the people can grow their communities and we will build their capacity”.

He said, “there was the need for the forest communities to embrace forest laws as it concerns them so as to have enough knowledge on how to manage the forest sustainably, so that children unborn and the entire society will benefit”.

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