Edo was followed by Cross River. The two states lost a massive 399,000 hectares in the last 20 years, the data shows.
Edo State suffered the largest scale of natural forest loss in Nigeria in 2021, according to new data.
Data analysed by the Global Forest Watch, an open-source web application that monitors global forests in near real-time, shows that Edo recorded a total tree cover loss of 18,200 hectare last year, followed by Cross River with a loss of 11,800 hectares.
The two states lost a massive 399,000 hectares in the last 20 years, the data shows.
Tree cover loss is the complete removal of tree cover or canopy for any reason, including human-caused loss and natural events although in some cases. The loss may be permanent or temporary.
Tree planting and preservation provide many benefits to the environment and mankind. Some of the benefits include ensuring healthy lives and promotion of well-being for all, protection against climate change, and land degradation.
Most of these trees are being destroyed through human activities in the course of finding means of livelihood.
"Nigeria has the largest mangrove ecosystem in Africa, and the Cross River mangrove is one of the most important in the country. However, indigenous fishing communities on the coast harvest mangrove wood for household domestic use, in particular for cooking and smoking fish. This has put severe pressure on mangrove forests, leading to steady deforestation," the United Nations said in a 2020 report.
What data shows
The Global Forest Watch data shows that in addition to Edo and Cross River States, and Ogun State had the third highest rate of tree cover loss in 2021 with 9,120 hectares.
This was followed by Ondo and Ekiti States. Most states in the northern part of the country witnessed zero tree cover loss due to the region's peculiar vegetation. Abia State was the only state in the southern part of the country with zero tree cover loss in 2021.
Chiagozie Udeh, former chairperson, Plant-for-the-Planet Initiative, said that tree usage cannot be taken out completely from people but there should be plans for replacement whenever any tree is destroyed so as to avert tree cover loss in the environment.
"It's inevitable that forest resources may be used for various purposes, especially timber but there must be a sustainable approach to its use. Trees are incredible carbon sinks that thrive on carbon dioxide while giving us oxygen, the benefit of breathing in fresh air for our health need not be overemphasized," he said.
"Government must implement policies that encourage sustainable use of forest resources. Companies such as timber companies must be able to replace at least twice the number of trees that they log for their work. Since trees can only sequester carbon over a few decades, it is important that logging and reforestation is happening in a systematic way that doesn't reduce the amount of carbon the trees are able to sequester."
Mr Udeh said the government can work closely with communities to achieve positive results on forest conservation.