FG To Ban Felling Of Trees To Avert Desertification

Felling of Trees, Desertification, The Federal Government is working towards putting a ban on felling of trees as a means of addressing the challenge of desertification in Nigeria.

The Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, announced the plan on Wednesday at a public forum on desertification and deforestation organised by the European Union.

Mrs Mohammed laments that about 1.5 million trees are cut daily in Nigeria, thereby creating room for desert encroachment.

On his part, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, hinted that the Senate was considering a bill to improve forestry in Nigeria.

At an earlier event to flag-off the ‘Keep Kaduna Green Project’, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed worry that Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world in spite of campaigns against such acts.

Restore The Environment

The President was represented by the Environment Minister at the event designed to plant one million trees annually in Kaduna State.

He pointed out that over 576 million trees were lost annually due to deforestation, adding that the situation had led to the increased rate of desertification, flooding and drought in some parts of Nigeria.

Environmental Auditors, AFROSAI, Implementation

President Buhari feared that with the upsurge in the rate of deforestation, the Federal Government’s effort to achieve the forest cover and restore the environment by 25% might be a tall dream.

Paid For Growing Trees 

In another development, the Federal Ministry of Environment reiterated its commitment to forestry development with a view to checkmate the effects of climate change in Nigeria.

The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibrin, stressed the importance of agriculture and forestry to national economy and security.

He also expressed concern over the negative destruction of the nation’s forests which he said had led to numerous environmental challenges.

Mr Jibrin called on farmers and other stakeholders to come up with solutions on how to combat climate change and deforestation in Nigeria.

If Nigeria could enact a law that would proscribe felling of trees, the nation could be added to the list of countries getting paid for keeping their forests.

Over eight countries get the REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) funds.

REDD+ is the UN led mechanism which helps countries earn dollars by not cutting trees and saving carbon dioxide in forests.

Environmental experts estimate that if a nation upholds deforestation and also plant new trees, it can earn $4 – 12 billion

Senate Promises To Intervene In Non-payment Of HYPREP Workers Salary

Senate Committee on Environment 2014The Senate Committee on Environment met with representatives of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration (HYPREP) Project on July 31 to resolve the issues around their unpaid salaries, promising to appeal to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke to pay them.

Over 18 months salaries and allowances of the 140 members of staff of the HYPREP are still pending.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2012, approved the setting up of HYPREP to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme assessment report on the spill disaster in Ogoniland, 12 months after the World body presented a scientific assessment of the 50 years of oil pollution in Ogoniland to the Federal Government.

However, a section of the members of HYPREP staff met with the Senate Committee on the Environment, asking the lawmakers to intervene in their matter because all appeals made in writing to the project’s supervising ministry to pay their 18 months salaries had been ignored.

The leader of the team, Mr Sam Okedi, told the Senators that the intervention of the upper chamber became imperative in view of the fact that their individual families had suffered untold hardship while some of them had either died or fallen sick due to the unfortunate development.

Members of the Senate Committee on Environment sympathised with the HYPREP representatives over their plights.

The lawmakers however,  lamented that their hands were tied because the ministry under which their agency was created, was not the ministry they have mandate to oversight.

However, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bukola Saraki, specifically pledged that the committee would under moral grounds, formally appeal to the Petroleum Resources ministry to pay their salaries.

He noted that the project was initially designed to be under the Ministry of Environment but that it was taken to the petroleum resources ministry so that it would not have the challenge of funding.

UNEP had in 2011, carried out the independent scientific assessment for over 14 months, examining more than 200 locations, 122 kilometres of pipelines, 4,000 soil and water samples, more than 5,000 medical records and engaged over 23,000 people at local community meetings.

The results had revealed greater and deeper pollution than previously thought in the area.