Economic Council recommends forest model estates

By Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

National Economic Council seeks forest model estates in all the states in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s National Economic Council has recommended the establishment of ‘National Forest Model estates’ in the 36 of the country and the Federal Capital Territory.

This was among decisions taken at the Council’s meeting on Thursday  presided over by the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja. Governors, some ministers and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN attended the meeting.

Forest management
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said the recommendation followed deliberations on “policy direction on aforestation, reforestation and sustainable forest management.”

Ikpeazu said the council also recommended “the review of the extant national forest policy, as well as ensure its backing through the enactment of relevant forest laws; massive aforestation and reforestation of degraded forest and landscapes outside forests; the establishment and take-off of the National Forestry Trust Fund through contribution of wood product exporters according to the product specification, which include processed, semi-processed and charcoal.”

Other recommendations made were the improvement in forest governance, the establishment of National Task Force to effectively protect the forest estates and reserves, as well as effective monitoring, evaluation and documentation of trade in wood and wood products.

Ikpeazu said various stakeholders have acknowledged the alarming rate of deforestation and its causes, which  included unsustainable agriculture practices, over exploitation of the forest and infrastructure development.

According to him, deforestation has progressed at about 3.5% of the forest area level in the last decade, which translates to about 350,000 areas of hectares of forest lost, requiring at least 420 million tree seedlings per annum to rectify.

He said the National Council of Environment, at its meeting in Lafia, Nassarawa State resolved to encourage states “to promote forestry development and aforestation programmes and to promote the use of alternative sources of energy.”

Ikpeazu said the council encouraged the temporary lifting of the suspension on wood exports and issuance of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, of wood, fauna and flora.

The Ministry of Environment has set out to strengthen the processes that would enable legitimate businesses to obtain the CITES Permit.

Mercy Chukwudiebere