The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Ibunkun Odusote has attributed the decline of forest to issues of insecurity, resource use conflict and climate change, which according to her is threatening the survival of the country.
The Permanent Secretary made this known at the extraordinary session of the National Forestry Development Committee which was recently held in Lafia, Nasarawa state with the theme #Bring Back Our Forest.
She revealed a number of Nigerian forest reserves and protected areas have become hideouts for criminal elements in different parts of the country.
According to Odusote, this situation would have been non-existent if the forests estates are being managed under the forest management plans that ensure the constant presence of personnel that would ward off encroachment.
In her own words, “The decline in resources available to the Federal Government, and the inability of the sector to position itself appropriately as an important sector in the economy, especially in revenue generation, is as a result of poor management.”
She said the declining forests further result in the inability of the environment to provide its normal functions of nutrient recycling, watershed protection, hydrological cycle regulation and livelihood for forest-dependent communities.
While noting that the resulting effect of this is a gradual migration to areas where such are provided, leading naturally to conflict, she said the issue of climate change which also contributes to the decline is real and thus the need to collectively work to redress the situation.
She, however, tasked state governments, as custodians of the nation’s forests, to develop appropriate strategies consistent with international best practices in sustainable forest management and also provide guidance to local governments.
The permanent secretary assured the Federal Government will continue to provide the necessary support to restore forests.