Monday, 06 February, 2023

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Forest sustainability efforts commence in Cross-River state

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has introduced a community-based sustainable forest management to protect the forest shared by eight communities in Akamkpa and Yakurr local government areas of Cross River.

The eight communities are: Iko Esai, Iko Ekperem, Owai, Ifumkpa, Agoi Ibami, Agoi Ekpo, Old Ekuri and New Ekuri.

The intervention, which is in partnership with Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) of Germany, is aimed at ensuring community-based forest management and livelihood improvement in the buffer region of Cross River National Park.

Speaking at the inception of the project in Iko-Esai community in Akamkpa council area, the Director-General of NCF, Mr Joseph Onoja, said that the intervention was to protect what was left of the nation’s rainforest in the area.

The Cross River government had, in 2018, banned forest-based activities in the state and established a militarised task force to enforce the ban.

The state government had also invited the United Nations Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) to generate income from carbon credit.

Represented by NCS acting Director, Technical Department, Mr Adedayo Memudu, Onoja said that the eight communities occupied a critical environment under the Cross River National Park and made Nigeria to be listed among the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world.

“The project has five components, including forest governance, enhancing sustainable agricultural practices and development of agricultural value chain. Others are: more recruitment of forest guards, popularly known as Ecoguards, from the eight communities and showcasing the communities to the world to attract other interventions,” he said.

Onoja added that while the intervention would benefit the communities immensely, it was a collective responsibility and would work as the communities continued to protect their forest inheritance.

Similarly, the Controller, Cross River National Park Service, Zana Lawal, lauded NCF for the initiative, noting that it would help to preserve the nation’s pristine forest.

Represented by a deputy controller of the service, Mr Innocent Asuquo, Lawal appealed to the traditional rulers of the eight communities to appeal to their subjects to refrain from degrading the forest, as it had far-reaching effects.