Deforestation: Tinubu calls for balance between forest security and sustainable forest management

President Bola Tinubu has decried the growing deforestation in Africa which was largely due to subsistence and commercial agriculture.

He noted that there was an urgent need for ambitious regional action to strike a balance between food security and sustainable forest management.

Speaking at the ongoing 1st International Conference on Afforestation and Reforestation holding in Brazzaville, Congo, President Tinubu who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal
said: “It gladdens my heart that the first ever International Conference on Afforestation and Reforestation is taking place right here in Africa where more than 15% percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions takes place. This historic gathering marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to address one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Forests, covers nearly 31% of the world’s land area and are crucial for maintaining ecological balance, preserving biodiversity and supporting the livelihoods to millions of people. However, deforestation and forest degradation continue to threaten these vital ecosystems, leading to severe consequences for our planet and future generations.”

Tinubu while quoting the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) report that nearly 4 million hectares of African forests are being cut down each year, which is almost double the speed of the world’s deforestation average, noted that factors contributing to forest loss in the region include increasing population, indiscriminate land expansion for agriculture, rapid urbanisation, social needs and illegal logging.

He added that: “About 70% of deforestation in Africa is as a result of subsistence and commercial agriculture therefore, urgent ambitious regional action is needed to strike a balance between food security and sustainable forest management.”

He admitted that the choice of Congo for this conference was apt taking into consideration the contribution of Africa’s deforestation around the world. He said: “We are all here to remedy the situation by bringing together leading experts, policymakers, researchers and practitioners from around the globe to share knowledge, exchange ideas and foster collaborations. Our goal is to develop and implement innovative and scientific strategies for afforestation and reforestation which will in turn restore degraded lands, enhance biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

He stated that: “Regional and global cooperation like this is imperative and will foster development of appropriate regional transformative policy and legal frameworkcapable of mitigating the impacts of climate change. Through initiatives like this we will accomplish progressive adoption and implementation of climate smart agriculture practices that would assist in strikingbalance between food security and sustainable forest management.”

He disclosed that: “Nigeria has gone a long way and we are making progress in contributing to the reversal of forest cover loss through sustainable forest management and massive afforestation. As part of our determination to upscale forest financing and increase forest cover,”

He added that: @Government has recently approved the sum of 8.5 million US Dollars under the Presidential Initiative on Afforestation. These funds are mainly for the afforestation and restoration of degraded forests and other critical landscapes across the country. This is in addition to other similar programmes like the Great Green Wall Pan African Program and Agro-Climatic Resilience Semi-Arid Landscape (ACReSAL) being implemented resulting in the restoration of over 1.5 million hectares of degraded forests including establishment of over 1,428.9km Shelter belts covering 4,286 hectares, empowerment of more than 200,000 forest community members and creation of more than 3 million jobs for our youths.”

He said: “Relevant policy and legislative framework are being strengthened in response to the current and emerging circumstances we are faced with. We have recently placed an interim suspension on the export of wood-based products to enable adequate appraisal of the process and ultimately emplacement of a sustainable forest management trade complaint system without jeopardizing progress in the implementation of the UNSPF, NDC, and other global agreements.”

The President said: “Nigeria remains committed to global, regional and sub-regional consensus to promote and accelerate progress on sustainable forest management. This includes the COP27 Africa and Global Decade of Afforestation and Reforestation and COP26 Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use as well as, other key outcomes of COP28.”

He said: “As parties to the globally agreed goals and targets on forests, biodiversity, climate change, and SDGs, we have no choice but to do all within our powers to accelerate transformative delivery of these goals within the set timelines. Restoration of our forest should not only be the responsibility of governments alone. It must be the collective effort of Government, Non-government organizations, corporate/private organizations, civil societies, and communities. We should all strive to achieve the common goal of increasing global forest cover.”

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