By Chika Okeke, Leadership via AllAfrica
The United Nations has unveiled plans that would culminate into strategic partnership with the federal government, Germany and the European Union (EU) to end Nigeria’s wildlife trafficking and forest crimes through the development of the first-ever national strategy.
Country representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Oliver Stolpe stated this in Abuja yesterday at a virtual 2021 World Wildlife Day (WWD) celebration, organised by the National Park Service (NPS) with the theme, ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’.
In his presentation titled, “The Exploitation of Rosewood in Nigeria: Acting To Save Nigerias Forests”, Stolpe said the theme underscored the need to protect Nigeria’s and Africa’s precious forests.
Stolpe stated that the national strategy would also capture Nigeria’s legal, institutional and operational capacities to tackle wildlife and forest crime using the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and forest crime analytic toolkit and indicator framework.
He quoted the World Wildlife Crime Report (WWCR) of 2020 as saying that from around 2011; 825,000 cubic meters of Kosso logs (rosebuds) or the equivalent of about 4 million trees exported were predominantly from Nigeria (754,234 cubic metres).
Also speaking, the conservator-general of NPS, Dr Ibrahim Musa Goni harped on the need to raise awareness on the critical role that forests play in sustaining wildlife species and the provision of ecosystem services that sustain livelihoods of millions of people worldwide.
He said that COVID-19, insurgency and banditry is threatening the existence and survival of human race, just as he suggested the establishment of more protected areas, and the use of technology in forest protection and management.
Goni sought for manpower development in the area of forest management, saying that NPS stopped visitors and researchers from visiting the Chad Basin national park due to the current security challenges.
The minister of Environment, Dr Mahmood Abubakar, who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Abel Olumuyima said that federal government remains committed in addressing actions towards sustainable forest management.
On his part, chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon Johnson Oghuma lamented the take-over of forests and reserves by bandits, saying that the National Assembly is ready to back the NPS with laws that would facilitate the protection of wildlife and forests.
The director-general of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Prof Aliyu Jauro said the agency advocates zero-tolerance to illegal wildlife trade, just as he added that forests provide essential services and contributes to national income.