New national forest policy will preserve ecosystems — Minister

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Dr Mohammed Abubakar, the Minister of Environment, said the new National Forest Policy (NFP), recently approved by Federal Executive Council (FEC), would assist the country in managing and sustaining its vast forest resources.

Abubakar made this known in a statement issued by Mr Saghir el Mohammed, the Director Press of the ministry on Sunday in Abuja.

He said that the NFP would also help to preserve Nigeria’s rich ecosystems as well as boost the current efforts of addressing various climate change challenges in the country.

The minister said the policy had earlier been subjected to reviews by various stakeholders before it was endorsed and adopted by the National Council on Environment (NCE) in November 2019, after assessing its diverse benefits.

According to him, the new policy is anchored on the need for continuous socio-economic development that provides optimal benefits to Nigeria in a sustainably managed environment that would contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“It is guided by a vision of sustainable management of forest ecosystems, socio-economic growth, environmental sustainability and provision of goods and services for domestic and export purposes, all for the nation’s benefit,” he said.

Abubakar regretted that the country’s forest area has been on a continuous decline since 1970, having dropped from 10 per cent to six per cent currently.

According to him, forest contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is increasing, as revenue is being generated through controlled export of wood and other forest products.

“Unsustainable exploitation, deforestation, extensive agriculture, population growth, infrastructural development, fuel wood extraction, forest fires, and obsolete National Forest Policy, were some of the factors responsible for the decline in the country’s forest resources.”

He revealed that the 2006 National Forest Policy, which sets strategies for growing the sector, did not take cognisance of emerging and contemporary development needs and has thus become obsolete.

“The national target of increasing Nigeria’s total forest cover from 10 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020, and the need to use forests as a veritable carbon sink to address climate change, make it necessary to review the 2006 National Forest Policy.

“This new policy is all inclusive and is in line with current global standard. “

He noted that the forestry sector remained an important natural capital asset in attainment of national development objectives, particularly in boosting economic activities, employment creation, income generation, poverty reduction, environmental security, sustainability among others (NAN)

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