The Chairman, Nigerian Environmental Study Team (NEST), Prof. David Okali, has decried the proposed lifting of the embargo on the issuance of certificates to all wood exporters in the country.
Okali said this in Lagos, while speaking on the Federal Government’s proposed Forest Trust Fund, to be financed by wood exporters.
According to him, lifting the embargo, if not accompanied by strict adherence to the rules of issuing certificates, can further reduce the nation’s forest reserves.
“In principle, the idea of a Forest Trust Fund is welcome. At least, funds will be raised specifically for forestry and forest development and management. If the fund is used judiciously, it should help to pursue sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and realise the goal of sound forest management globally,’’ he said.
Okali said that there was little to fear for export to most of the western world that accept forest products only from certified forests.
He said that certified forests meant forests certified as being managed sustainably, adding that the danger was with export to countries that did not make the distinction.
According to him, the danger is also with unscrupulous officers issuing certificates to exporters, without strict adherence to the rules.
Okali, who is also a professor of forest ecology, regretted that the Forest Trust Fund could also be abused like the Ecological fund.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on May 24 approved the setting up of a National Forest Trust Fund, to be financed by wood stakeholders.
It also lifted the embargo on issuance of certificate on all categories of wood exports.
The Federal Government banned wood and charcoal exportation in May 2016, following exporters’ refusal to adhere to the directive of cut-one tree, plant-two policy.