August 01, (THEWILL) – Some communities in Cross River State are currently counting their losses due to the activities of illegal loggers.
The affected communities have since cried out to the Cross River State Government to help chase out the loggers and save the forests from destruction.
Counting the costs of illegal logging activities in Ubiofor, an affected community in New Ekuri, Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state, the village head, Chief Edwin Ogar, said that over 10,000 hectares of the Ekuri forest were destroyed by unscrupulous loggers.
Noting that roads in the community were also affected by the activities of loggers, Ogar said the community had decided to stage a demonstration alongside other affected communities to draw the attention of the Federal and state governments to the destruction of the rain forests in the areas.
He said, “The best option for us is to hold a demonstration so that government will know that illegal logging is destroying our forests and worsening the deplorable condition of the road that leads to Ekuri.
“The size of the forest, particularly in Ekuri, as we have taken the ground survey is 33,600 hectare of forest land. We have discovered that 10,000 hectares of the forest has been destroyed by illegal loggers.
“What is left now is about 23,000 hectares. The same group of loggers that has inflicted this loss on our community went on and brought in another company to operate in the other part of New Ekuri. New Ekuri is the last bus stop on this road.”
It would be recalled that before the onslaught from illegal loggers, Cross River was home to a large expanse of virgin rainforests that contained a wide variety of flora and fauna. This transformed the state to a tourist destination as tourists thronged the state to see its huge biodiversity. As a result, the Federal Government and some reputable organisations, like the World Wildlife Fund, made efforts to preserve the abundant bio diversity of the state for the sake of posterity.
While the Federal Government created the Cross River National Park, the state government under the administration of Donald Duke created a gorilla sanctuary as well as the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in 2000.
Besides this, a moratorium was placed on logging in the state to forestall the depletion of the rainforest and its abundant biodiversity.
However, these efforts are being eroded as illegal loggers have been decimating the virgin rain forests in the state.
In their search for wood and the absence of an effective security arrangement to preserve the forests on the part of the government, the illegal loggers have done monumental damage to the rain forests of Cross River State.
Also speaking, Comrade Innocent Edi, the central unit leader representing Okom Kingdom, expressed the fear that most of the plant species in the forests might become extinct as a result of illegal logging.
“Actually, we have seen a lot of exploitation. Most especially from our flora .We know that our forest is made up of homogenous species of our flora.
“But we have discovered that most of these species are almost going extinct and this is because they are undergoing too much exploitation,” he said.
Also, a Women Leader in Edondon, Mrs Mary David, lamented the negative effects of illegal logging on basic infrastructure in the affected communities.
“They have destroyed our roads. We can’t sell our wares as a result. Vehicles cannot come into our village to buy anything. We are telling these loggers to stop entering our forests,” she said.
In his reaction, the Chairman of the State Forestry Commission, Chief Tony Undiandeye, said he was not aware of the activities of illegal loggers in the state.