Environmentalists Condemn Spate of Forest Degradation in Cross River
By Eme Offiong, Calabar
Concerned about the increasing degradation of the Cross River State rain and mangrove forest, a group of environmentalists have urged the governor-elect, Senator Bassey Otu to end the wave of deforestation.
The environmentalists, who refer to themselves as WE THE PEOPLE, made the call in an open letter to the governor-elect endorsed by seven persons including the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Studies and Development, Dr Ken Henshaw, Dr Clement Ebin and Dr Odigha Odigha.
The group, while addressing some Journalists in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, Southern Nigeria, noted that the fast-depleting rain and mangrove forests, which were the only dependable economic assets, should be protected from illegal loggers.
In the open letter, the scientists explained that insecurity was heightened especially within forest communities and the theft of forest as well as other ecological resources witnessed the emergence of middlemen known as Crossers.
Explaining further, the group stated, their ranks consist of thugs, militants armed with sophisticated firearms deployed to intimidate, terrorize and maim forest protection agents including community vigilante groups that they perceive as threats to their operations.
The group expressed confidence that the governor-elect would tackle the challenges bedevilling forest conservation efforts. They urged the governor-elect to read the Riot Act to those destroying the forests.
As responsible Civil Society Organisations and experts in forest management, we are confident that under your leadership and given the political will, the escalating threat of deforestation as well as the gaps and challenges associated with existing government responses could be fixed, the group indicated.
They pledged to collaborate with the incoming administration to develop policies and frameworks geared towards the protection of existing forests and ecological resources.