CALABAR—Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has called on the international community to assist in protecting the Cross River rainforest which he said is under attack by loggers, farmers and those collecting firewood.
He spoke at the Copenhagen Summit on Global Warming in a paper he presented titled Can REDD Save Nigeria’s Last Rainforests?
According to the governor, “over half of what remains of Nigeria’s 90 percent rainforest is found in Cross River State which is one of the richest for biodiversity in Africa and needs to be protected from threat.”
He said the forest is constantly under attack on a daily basis by hundreds of small scale loggers and farmers and those collecting firewood, stressing that a 2002 study found out that the state has a rate of deforestation of over two percent per annum.
While raising an alarm that this is the highest deforestation rate in the world, he argued that this constitutes a crisis for the state given that it has few other resources to depend upon, explaining that unlike some other parts of southern Nigeria, the state gets little from the oil revenue.
Imoke who informed the conference that his vision for Cross River is to have 1 million hectares of forest lands under Reduced Emmissions from Deforestation and Forest degradation (REDD), said his decision to grant a logging moratorium and set up an anti logging task force in the state is meant to bring a stop to timber exploitation in the state so that the government can obtain carbon concessions.
“I am here to look for donor support for a REDD readiness programme for the State. I have also joined the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task force (GCF), so that the State’s REDD pilots will be prepared for inclusion in the compliance system being proposed by California”, he explained, adding that “I believe that this approach will greatly enhance our chances of protecting our home heritage, Cross River Rainforest”.
He argued that “this is what will guarantee the survival of the last and highly endangered Cross River Gorilla, Nigeria Chimps and Drills and expand the forest cover of the state as the real mitigation against climate change.”