September 05, (THEWILL) – The Rainforest Resources and Development Centre (RRDC) as well as We The People have called for a review of government policies that threaten Cross River Forests.
They made the call in Calabar during the public presentation of “Vanishing Forests”, a research product on the fast depleting forests of Cross River State.
Speaking during the presentation of the material, one of the authors, Odey Oyama from the RRDC said the state’s forests is fast depleting.
He posited that the state government takes a significant share of the blame for what has become of Cross River forests.
In his words, “from permitting salvage logging, to granting concessions to commercial agricultural ventures and carrying out infrastructure constructions that require destroying large sections of the forests, the government has not lived up to it’s claim of preserving the ecosystem.
“To preserve what remains of the forests, the government needs to cease all further concessions to commercial agricultural ventures near or within the forests.
“It needs to go further to address complaints that concessions already granted have expanded beyond their lines into the forests.
“It is important for the government to reexamine all the infrastructural projects it intends to carry out around forested areas.
“This is by carrying out independent and thorough environmental and social impact assessments, to unravel the ecological, economic and social implications of each Infrastructure project”, he said.
Also speaking, Ken Henshaw, the Executive Director of We The People said government policies that deprive the community agency of protecting forests should be reversed.
He said these communities have been preserving forests for generations before the government.
“While the colonial, regional and state governments saw the forest as a revenue resource, the indigenous people saw it as part of their heritage and existence.
“Unfortunately, the policies of the state government in the last 14 years has weakened their relationship with the forest and their capacity to remain it’s protectors.
“Government policies that deprive communities of agency in protecting the forests should be reversed and communities encouraged to take initiatives in again protecting the forests,” he said.
As part of the report, about 79 companies and individuals involved in “salvage logging” in the state were uncovered.
Similarly, the report indicated that between 1991 to 2001, the state lost 1,514km2 of forest amounting to 12 per cent of its forest cover.
Another, 1,307km2 of forest was lost in the 8 year period between 2000 and 2008 indicating 17.64 per cent decline.
Also, the rate of decline increased sharply to 1,070km2 in the seven years leading to 2014.