Taraba draws six-month REDD readiness plan
Taraba State of Nigeria is aiming to becoming the second REDD Pilot State in the country after Cross River, which is on the verge of accessing funds set aside under the climate change mitigation programme.
However, while it took Cross River State several years to attain this status, Taraba, apparently riding the crest of the goodwill arising from the flagship Cross River agenda, intends to be REDD ready in a record six months.
REDD, which implies Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, entails the enhancement of carbon stocks in developing countries, which are compensated for keeping their natural forests standing. The phenomenon is based on the premise that forests act as a sink for carbon, thus mitigating climate change impact.
The trio of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) operates the UN-REDD Programme, a UN initiative on REDD.
Using Cross River as a pilot scheme, Nigeria began it’s REDD readiness process in 2009 and, a couple of weeks ago, completed the preparation of a Draft National Readiness Programme (DNRP), which will be submitted to the UN-REDD Policy Board (UPB) that meets for three days from today in Vietnam.
If Nigeria’s DNRP is endorsed by the UPB, the country will access a $4 million REDD start-off fund, which will be utilised to finance the implementation of activities contained in the DNRP. The activities include, among others, preparation of facilities and upgrading of facilities towards making Nigeria ready to fully participate in REDD from 2013 (the post-Kyoto Protocol era).
However, at the inauguration of the State Technical Committee on REDD in Jalingo a week ago, Governor Danbaba Suntai stressed that Taraba was one of the few states in the country that still had large amounts of standing natural forests maintained and preserved over the years.
He said, “Because of the potential benefits of REDD in promoting sustainable livelihood for our forest communities in the state which is in line with the policy of this administration that enhances poverty reduction and community empowerment, the state government has taken a bold step to key into the National REDD Programme by inaugurating the State Technical Committee on REDD.”
According to the governor, who is a pharmacist by profession, the committee’s task would be to drive the REDD process in the state, by planning and coordination of REDD activities as well as liaising with national and international REDD agencies.
While assuring that it would take the state “just six months to become the second REDD state in Nigeria,” Suntai charged the committee to submit a Roadmap for the Taraba State REDD Programme within a week for his approval. He assured the committee members of government’s support and cooperation, while wishing them success in their endeavour.
National REDD Coordinator, Salisu Dahiru, declared that the Taraba REDD process would commence without delay.
He said, “As soon as we come back (from the UPB meeting in Vietnam), the National Technical Committee on REDD (NTCR) will be coming to Taraba for the first Internal Scoping Mission to kick-start awareness creation, stakeholder engagement and assessment of the state’s REDD potential.”
Dahiru, a forester, emphasised that Taraba had actively participated in the national process, “which has placed the state in the right pedestal to launch itself as the next REDD Pilot State in Nigeria after Cross River State.”
He expressed optimism that, following the chronology of REDD-related activities undertaken for over 15 years in the state as well as the current administration’s commitment, Taraba would “leapfrog from a forest resourced state to a REDD-compliant state within the shortest time.”
“REDD is about political commitment, policy consistency, transparency in governance and recognition of rights of forest communities in the management of their forests,” he stressed, adding that the Taraba government possessed such qualities that served as pillars for a successful REDD programme.
Taraba State Environment & Urban Development Commissioner, Gebon Kataps, pointed out that the nation’s strides at achieving a REDD status were predicated on the political will and the commitment of the Cross Rivers State Government spanning over 10 years, adding that this paved the way for the utilisation of references and materials from the studies undertaken by Cross Rivers State to represent the REDD status of Nigeria and, by extension, Taraba State becoming a beneficiary.
His words: “The advantage Taraba State has now after indicating a strong desire to be a REDD ready state is that it will no longer take the duration of Cross River State to attain a REDD status state. All that is required now is to fast track the state government’s strong political will, establish the state REDD Technical Committee, and invite the National REDD Technical Committee to the state to assess the preparedness of the state in meeting all REDD status requirements by May 2011.”
Members of the Taraba REDD Technical Committee include Samuel Taltully (coordinator), Amauwhe Arziki, Audu Maiguru, Solomon Fuktur, Ishaku Adda Ali, representative of Ministry of Agriculture and representative of Ministry of Finance.
Others are representative of Ministry of Women Affairs, representative of LG&CA, Nigerian Montane Forest Project (Research), Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) (Forestry Management/Consultants), Lawan Sani (Representative of Taraba State Broadcasting Service) and Zecharia Yurma (Representative of Taraba State Television).
Nigeria’s journey towards REDD readiness began in November, 2009 when the country requested to join the UN-REDD Programme as a partner. Nigeria was granted observer status in February, 2010.
The country then drew up a five-stage roadmap that entailed: preliminary assessment of REDD at context at national and state levels; establishment of government structure for REDD; national stakeholders sensitisation awareness programme, a first UN-REDD scoping mission; and, preparation and submission of the REDD Proposal Idea Note (R-Pin).
The scoping mission was held in October 2010 in Cross River State (Calabar) and Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja.
Nigeria’s presentation at COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 was received by the Policy Board members, who could not openly direct financial support for the country due to lack of a programme document with a budget by Nigeria.
It was resolved that Nigeria has priority track for consideration and budget allocation in the next Policy Board, if it comes with a qualitative programme duly validated by stakeholders. Proposed key activities were mapped out and crafted by Nigeria’s representation comprising Odigha Odigha (Chairman, Cross River State Forestry Commission), Odibo Ochuka (Special Assistant to Minister of Environment) and Gebon Kataps (Commissioner of Environment & Urban Development in Taraba State), which was charged with the duty to validate and submit a UN-REDD programme for the UPB meeting holding this week.
In principle, an allocation of $4 million was set aside for Nigeria to access on submission of a validated full national programme.