Earth Day: Conservationist tasks communities on best practices

Eme Offiong, Calabar

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Nigerian communities have been urged to embrace practices that would protect the forest against deforestation and degradation.

A conservationist and Executive of Green Vision for Community Development Initiative, GVCDI, Okon Enemi, made the call at a sensitization campaign rally held in Akpabuyo, a local government area near Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, south-south Nigeria to mark World Earth Day.

Enemi, who described the theme “Restore Our Earth” as apt, stated that the campaign was in Akwa Esuk Eyamba village, Akpabuyo due to the large expanse of forest in the area and the need to encourage the people to protect the environment from deforestation.

Alternative livelihoods

He said the campaign supported and funded by the Small Grant Programme, SGP, Global Environmental Fund, GEF, and United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, trained women and youths in alternative livelihoods.

The purpose of this rally in village is to create awareness and sensitize the people on community forest protection and conservation because area has a large forest reserve. Before now, we held a training workshop in January for women and youths on alternative livelihood,” he said.

According to the conservationist, the people were trained to discourage the constant felling of threes for firewood, noting “we taught them how to make pastries and many other skills to improve on their livelihood so they do not destroy their forest. In view of this, they were also trained on efficient wood stove production. We produced efficient wood stoves in February and we shared the stove to each household in the entire community.” 

On conservation, we enlightened the people on the methods of protecting the forest and preserving same. At the end of that training, a community based forest management committee was formed with the youth leader as Chairman.

“The training also introduced them to the Cross River State Forestry Commission Law of 2010, which enable the people understand how the community can participate in managing forest resources to avoid degradation to the environment.

“This is the phase one of this project, the second phase will be the planting of two thousand palm fruits. And we are going to carry out debates in schools on the effect of forest and herbs in the lives of the citizens,” the environmentalist added.

Community gesture

Responding to the gesture, the traditional ruler of Akpabuyo, Etinyin Maurice Nya and the Village Head, Etubom Kingsley Offiong Obo, commended the organisation for selecting the community for the campaign.

The traditional leaders promised to take responsibility and ensure members of the villages and surrounding communities participate in the protection and conservation of the forest.

The youth leader, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries, Mr. Edet Etim said, “we are happy about this campaign for a sustainable forest. We have to learnt how to make good use of our forest. This awareness and training have opened our eyes to the importance of protecting our forest.”