Stakeholders have, for long, been harping on halting deforestation for a healthy environment. In this analysis, PELUMI BOLAWA compiles experts’ views on the advantages of afforestation and reforestation
A coalition of 15 international organisations working on forestry has highlighted the need to end deforestation all the world.
According to the statement released on the sidelines of the 16th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests at UN headquarters recently, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests outlined the impact of deforestation as well as the need to reverse it.
The partnership comprises the United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank Group and the four Rio conventions.
Chairman and Director of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Forestry Division, Mette Wilkie, said, “Forests are a source of sustainable livelihoods, prosperity and resilience. It is incumbent upon all of us in the forest sector to work together to halt deforestation and increase the world’s forest area.
“Today, we affirm our collective commitment to support the call by UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to turn the tide on deforestation.”
Forest plays a vital role in human life as it provides a wide range of resources, and ecosystem services such as storage of carbon, production of oxygen vital for human existence, as well as helping in the regulation of hydrological cycle, water purification, provision of wildlife habitat and reduction in global warming. They also absorb toxic gases, contain pollution, conserve soil and above all, connect human with nature.
But the cases of deforestation and forest degradation continue at alarming rates, especially in Africa.
Since 1990, an estimated 420 million hectares of forest has been lost through deforestation and 10 million hectares continue to be lost each year.
Deforestation and other land use activities have been identified as the cause of 11 per cent of global Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Data from Global Forest watch reveals that in 2020, Nigeria lost 97.8kha of natural forest, equivalent to 22.3 metric tonnes of carbon emissions.
“Top four regions were responsible for 54 per cent all tree cover loss between 2001 and 2020. Edo State of Nigeria has the most tree cover loss at 268kha compared to an average of 28.2kha,” according to the data.
FAO reported, “Nigeria has less than 10 per cent forests coverage, with only 20,000ha of primary forests. The country lost about 95 per cent of its forest coverage to high rate of deforestation, which is recorded at five per cent yearly between 2010 and 2015.”
Director, Ecosystems Division at UNEP, Susan Gardner, said, “To deliver on the Paris Agreement, we must utilise the full potential of forests.”
The CPF statement outlined how the Coronavirus Disease placed additional pressure on forest resources, which and may result in a significant increase in deforestation.
Healthy forests are essential to building back better and are key in decreasing the risk of future zoonotic diseases, according to the statement.
CPF sets out the challenges and the opportunities involved in halting deforestation, noting that actions beyond the forest sector were needed – including by transforming agriculture and food systems to address the main driver of deforestation, that means the conversion of forests to agricultural land.
According to Gardner, 2021 can be the year to make peace with nature, “if we increase ambition and identify opportunities for quantum shifts” in scale of funding and result.
Wilkie stated, “We can achieve both through a range of actions, including more balanced land use planning, restoring the productivity of degraded agricultural lands, stepping up public and private sector commitments to zero deforestation, and reducing food loss and waste.
“Feeding a growing world population and halting or even reversing deforestation are not mutually exclusive.”
While important public and private commitments to deforestation have been made, the CPF explained that implementation was lagging and needed to be accelerated, if the goals are to be met. Progress on legal timber production and trade as well as strong forest governance are equally critical.
Ending deforestation is essential to confront the ‘quadruple planetary emergency’ of a climate crisis, nature crisis, inequality crisis and global health crisis, according to the CPF statement.
“Our mission is to promote sustainable management of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end.”
The partnership is the driving force for the international forest agenda, providing technical and policy guidance and driving a coherent effort to meet global forest goals.
The statement aims to build momentum for forests ahead of the launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on World Environment Day on June 5 and the UN Climate Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow later this year.
FAO has highlighted the following as some major causes of loss of forest cover in Nigeria.
First is the commodity-driven deforestation. A long-term, permanent conversion of forest and shrubland to non-forest land use such as agriculture mining, or energy infrastructure. Second is shifting agriculture. Small to medium-scale forest and shrubland conversion for agriculture that is later abandoned and followed by subsequent forest regrowth. Third is large-scale forestry operations occurring within managed forests and tree plantations. Fourth is the large-scale forest loss resulting from the burning of forest vegetation with no visible human conversion or agricultural activity afterwards. In the recent data obtained from Global Forest Watch, between April 18, 2020 and April 17, 2021, Nigeria experienced a total of 335,780 Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite fire alerts.
Last, forest and shrubland conversion for the expansion and intensification of existing urban centres.
According to a research by Kolade Adeyoju, the loss of forest cover means ultimate destruction of agricultural production, climate and living conditions.
“Reforestation is the indispensable starting phase for a new cycle of ecological rehabilitation and the introduction of a new set of human endeavours,” he added.
Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, had, while flagging off a tree planting initiative at the Rayfield Golf Club, Jos, last year, stated, “Plateau State should embibe the culture of tree planting to address deforestation.”
Director of Green Renaissance Africa, Amir Chami, at the same event, said, “The target was to plant 250,000 trees and encourage the culture of tree planting by the citizens, as a way of balancing nature and human development,” Punch reported.
The authorities in charge of forest management in Nigeria should align with this global resolution to find a lasting solution to the problem of deforestation in the country, to avoid any global climate crisis.
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