Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General, National Park Service says the service is audaciously working with the local communities around the parks to help curb deforestation and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Goni, who disclosed this in Abuja, said that the benefits of community-based involvement over a long time would lead to greater conservation, reduce poverty, increase economic productivity and the protection of many forest species.
“If we are to confront the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change while meeting the demands of a rapidly-growing global population; it is vital that we find the balance between conserving and regenerating forest areas with economic growth for poverty reduction.’’
Goni said that the service had a programme called `Support Zone Development Programme’ aimed at supporting the communities surrounding the National Parks.
“The people of the communities sometimes assist the service in the protection of the biodiversity and in most cases we get information about loggers, herdsmen and fishers from them.
“So we created this package to look at the schools, clinic and roads established for them in that areas to see how we can assist them improve their living standards.
“We have sponsored a few from these communities to become nurses, because sometimes when the government posts some medical personnel to those remote areas they don’t go.
“So in order to make the clinic functional we took it upon ourselves to train some of their indigenes who will be resident there to attend to them.
“We are also looking at sustainable conservation through sustainable farming to see how we can improve their farming skills so that a small area of land can yield much more for the farmer.’’
Goni reiterated that the prevention of deforestation and preservation of biodiversity should be the responsibility of everyone.
“Governments at all levels and indeed the general public should be encouraged to create awareness on the need to stop the destruction of biodiversity in Nigeria.
“Working with the local communities to conserve nature will address threats such as forest deforestation, wildlife poaching, wildfires and environmental degradation in the country.
“The best community conservation practices will offer powerful insights that could help save wildlife and inform the process of forming new conservation in Nigeria.
“This therefore calls for increased community involvement in wildlife conservation and secure livelihoods.’’
According to him, forest resources contribute to the natural environment on which food production depends and absorb around 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
“They also protect vital watersheds and reduce the risk of natural disasters, including floods and landslides.
“However, many of the world’s remaining forests are under increasing threat because of human activities and climate change,” he added.