The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, has said a number of reasons are behind the decline of forests but more evident are the issue of insecurity, resource use conflict and climate change which are threatening the survival of the country.
Speaking at the extra-ordinary session of the National Forestry Development Committee in Lafia, Nasarawa State, recently with the theme, #Bring Back Our Forest#, Odusote said a number of Nigerian forest reserves and protected areas are being used as hideouts by criminal elements in various parts of the country.
This, she said, would not have arisen if the forest estates were managed under forest management plans that ensure constant presence of personnel that would serve as deterrent and source of information on encroachment.
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"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
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 said the Federal Government will continue to provide the necessary support to restore forests.
In a keynote address, the chairman, Governing Council of African Forest Forum World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Macarthy Oyebo, said forests are among the world's most productive land based ecosystems and are essential to life on earth.
He said in spite of the numerous functions played by forests, which include protecting natural resources essential to human survival and supporting food security among others, forests are still much undervalued.