The Nigerian cabinet has approved a new National Forest Policy for the country.
Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood revealed this to Journalists at the end the end of this week’s cabinet meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mahmood said the new policy is an improvement on the one in use since 2006.
He said: “The new National Forest Policy is a revised policy. The old one was formulated in 2006. Why the new one? We realize that the old one is not catering for the current situation at hand.
“Forestry is a big sector of the economy. It provides a lot of employment opportunities, reduces poverty, provides means of livelihood and foreign exchange from export of wood. Without a sustainable forest management, you cannot have all of these benefits.
“We also know that right now particularly with the issue of climate change, forest is a big part of climate change mitigation. The more forest we have, the more cover we seek. It means taking out the emission out of our planet and stabilizing the temperature of the planet and the catastrophic effects of climate change.
“So, we have revised it and produced a new one. And we believe this will go a long way in regenerating employment which is an issue at hand. Youth and women are the vulnerable in the rural areas usually bear the brunt of this issue of deforestation. The more we populate our forest with trees, the better for the people not just in the rural areas but even the economy.”
The Environment Minister informed Nigerians that the old policy is now suspended and charcoal exploitation is also banned.
“Currently, we have suspended export of forest products because we do not have enough control under the old policy. So, we have suspended that. Charcoal exploitation has been banned completely. These are some of the things that are causing degradation of our land. When you lose forest, it’s not just forest that you are losing, you are also losing the land because the land will be eroded.
“It may not support agriculture, thereby foodstuff becomes very expensive. The people around that forest area become unemployed. Poverty will increase in the long-run. This is a policy that we feel it will go a long way in safeguarding the economy and the planet at the same time, both human capital, and physical environment. It’s a collaboration between federal government, state government, local government, non-governmental organization, CBOs, the private sector, and international organizations. This is something that all hands must be on deck.
“The tree planting campaign has already started unofficially and we have planted millions of trees. But we will be seeking the President’s indulgence to flag off symbolically, national tree planting this year. We expect in one day everybody will plant at least one tree. National tree planting is supposed to be perpetual. It is no longer yearly or monthly. This is basically what forest policy that we have just presented is all about. We have it approved today. We thank Mr President and the council for approving the policy,” he said.