Now That the Nation Has Got REDD Alert, What Next?
It is definitely celebration time for environment stakeholders especially the Federal Ministry of Environment now that Nigeria has been granted the green light to benefit from the $4 million (N600 million using official rate) from the United Nations (UN) Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme.
The REDD programme which targets developing nations is aimed at promoting the conservation of forest resources by advocating through country governments the prevention of illegal tree felling and the excessive conversion or clearing of forest reserves for other purposes thereby reducing the impact of climate change and desertification.
Apart from this, the UN says that the destruction of tress through illegal logging and bush fires accounts for about 20 percent of the global green house emission.
Nigeria begun its REDD readiness programme in Cross River state about two years back as part of preparations for a national REDD programme and has hoped to benefit fund availed for the UN-REDD to developing countries that have been approved for such funding but sources say the country was unable to access the money at the last opportunity as it was beaten by Ecuador in DaLat in March.
Toward the end of his tenure, John Odey, the former Minister of Environment who has worked with the Government of Cross River State and UN officials on the REDD programme had expressed disappointment that Nigeria is yet to be granted the REDD funding to enable her begin a nationwide programme, now the funds have been released, the question is what is Nigeria's strategy for the effective utilization of these funds?
It is no longer news that Nigeria is encompassed with various environmental and ecological challenges ranging from floods to erosion of all kinds in the north, south and eastern parts of the country with illegal deforestation and bush burning on the rise despite the worsening effects of climate change.
According to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, over the past 15 pears, Nigeria has lost up to 81 percent of its old forest reserve. Quoting the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Nigeria has the world's deforestation rate of primary forests to tree felling, subsistence agriculture among others.
It is saddening that Africa as a whole has lost 90 percent of its forest while Nigeria has lost half of its primary forests in last five years.
This obviously is a call to action by all stakeholders and the governments at all levels to ensure that the nations remaining forest reserves are preserved and more trees planted to fight the impact of global climate change, promote good agriculture practices as well as save tree/plant species from extinction and conserve biodiversity as a whole.
The federal Ministry of environment must work to make sure that the money is used for what it is meant for by working with local indigenous communities to protect the gift of nature, biodiversity through forest preservation.
Alternative sources of firewood for fuel or firewood efficiency sources such as the save 80 stove can be produced en mass and at affordable prices to rural community dwellers and others that depend on firewood as a source of fuel for cooking so that the forest can be left to heal and recover itself.
The N600 million must be judiciously utilized to promote aggressive tree planting especially in the northern regions of Nigeria where desertification and desert encroachment is seriously threatening the lives of Nigerians, killing agriculture in the face of growing global food shortages.
Thanks to UN-REDD, the Federal government's battle with environmental challenges has now received a boost that Nigerians would want to be effectively utilized.
Although the Federal Government is yet to officially announce that it has been granted UN-REDD fund support, it is hoped that the money would not disappear into private pockets but would be used for the purpose it is intended for in the interest of developing our homeland and creating a better world.