Over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s forests have already been cleared, and more than 50% of forested areas that remain in the country are found in Cross River State. Approximately 75% of Nigeria’s endangered tree species are only found in Cross River State. The State is considered one of the richest biodiversity reserves in all of Africa and is part of the “Gulf of Guinea” forests, a global biodiversity hotspot, with a rich diversity of primates, birds, butterflies, plants, reptiles, amphibians and other species.
Cross River's forests support 22 primate species, including endemics like the Cross River Gorilla, Drill monkey, and Preuss's Guenon monkey.
Cross River State has taken many steps to protect its forests, including the following:
1. Holding a Stakeholders Summit on the Environment in June 2008;
2. Enacting a two-year logging moratorium;
3. Establishing and supporting an anti-logging task force to enforce the moratorium, with approximately USD$1 million committed to this cause;
4. Implementing far-reaching reforms in the Cross River State Forestry Commission; and
5. Committing to plant 5 million indigenous trees annually, with the development of nurseries in progress across the state.
Within 10 years, Cross River State plans to have 1 million hectares of forest lands managed for climate change-friendly activities, including carbon, non-timber forest products, sustainable tree crops and ecotourism. This could generate substantial economic value for the state.
|Tropical High Forest||2,360|
|Oil palm, Rubber||700|
|National Conservation Areas||--|
|State Forest Reserves||--|
|Community Forest Estates||--|
The main (direct) drivers of deforestation in Cross River State include:Commercial agriculture, subsistence agriculture, Logging/timber extraction Mining, Fuel wood extraction practices dominate the list of deforestation drivers.
Indirect causes of deforestation in Nigeria
The underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation can be grouped under macro economic factors, governance factors and other factors (including demographic technological and cultural factors).
Macro economic factors
The higher profitability of agriculture is the main economic factor underlying the conversion of forests to other uses. Other macro economic factors include external debt; foreign exchange rate policy and trade policies governing the sector. For example, the ban on log and sawn timber export has contributed significantly to this inefficiency by keeping prices lower than their true competitive levels. This has continued to protect the inefficiency of the wood industry. According to a World Bank study’s analysis, four states (for which complete data are available) subsidized the forest industry to the tune of US $6.5 million in 2003 through a failure to adjust their fees to their real levels and a failure to capture revenues lost through illegal logging. This study estimated that between 2001 and 2003, the four states lost US $ 18.7 million from these sources.
Deforestation and degradation can result from the combined impact of poor forest tenure arrangements and weak forestry institutions, which in turn determine the set of incentives that leads to overexploitation.
Outdated forest laws: The legislative structure for forest management in Nigeria has remained largely unchanged since colonial times. Forest resources fall under three main categories: Forest Reserves, State and private tree plantations, and ‘free areas’. The colonial legislation set a number of precedents that are still evident today, including a policy thrust based upon the expansion of reserved areas and plantations, in which communities have very limited rights. The current National Forest Policy (1988), 11 continues this trend by focusing on achieving national self-sufficiency in wood production and a doubling of the reserved forest area. However, the status quo appears to have continued largely unchanged by this policy environment. The role of rural communities in forest management and the importance of forest resources to the rural poor have not been recognized so far.
No integration with other ministries: Government agricultural programmes, and the potential expansion of the solid minerals sector, have a significant impact on forestry in Nigeria, with this largely being overlooked in national planning processes. Forestry and the environment in general, is not effectively integrated across national planning, despite the presence of mainstreaming mechanisms (such as the inactive biodiversity inter-ministerial committee).
Land tenure: Land tenure laws fail to formally recognize community tenure of land removing an incentive for villages to manage their land resources more effectively. The rights of communities over the forest sector worsened following the Land Use Decree of 1978.
Weak capacity at Federal level: The management of forest resources and the right to generate revenue from the forest estate are both vested in the State Governments at present. The 1978 Land Use Decree, which vests all land in the hands of the State Governors, strengthened this mandate. The role of the Federal Government appears somewhat limited, although the Federal Department of Forestry (FDF) holds the remit to advance national forest policy. The FDF is in a weak position, having suffered from a lack of capacity development over last fifteen years. The National Forest Development Committee (NFDC) is the forum that brings together all the State Forestry Directors and is chaired by the Director of the FDF. It provides an important institutional link between the Federal authority and the States. In recent times it has been involved in guiding forest policy and legislation development.
Weak capacity at state level: This lack of capacity and funding situation is reflected at the state level, where the State Forestry Departments lack capacity to manage forests effectively. On the other hand, forestry plays a pivotal role in State finances for example, in Ekiti State, with 40 % of Internally Generated Revenue being raised from timber royalties and license fees in 2002. Nevertheless, the funding of government agencies remains weak and there is very limited civil society capacity to compensate for this deficiency.
Absence of forest management planning: An important cause for deforestation within the forest reserves can be linked to state forestry departments who have abandoned any form of forest management for natural forest since the 1970s. As a result, reserve forests are being treated as an infinite resource with no effective policies in place to regulate their harvesting. An example of this is the practice of allocating short-term concession of 1 to 3 years that encourage annual re-entries thereby totally degrading the forests. In many reserves management amounts to salvage logging for the last remaining trees.
High revenue targets and low timber fees: The forest revenue system of the states has also contributed to the forests’ demise. The allocation of concessions is by discretion and annual timber removal is driven by the states’ revenue targets. These are set administratively without regard to what actually exists in the forest or what can be sustainable harvested. A World Bank Forestry Economic Study for Nigeria in year 2005 showed that low timber fees have had a direct impact on the efficiency of forest industry, costing the state significant losses in revenue as well as causing wastage of valuable timber resources. Other reasons for degradation in the forest reserves include inefficient wood-utilization by industry and, therefore, a higher demand for industrial grade timber, and illegal logging.
De-reservation by state governments: In addition, forest estates are being de-reserved by some state Governments and the State Forest Departments who have been resist the spate of requests from corporate and influential individuals for excisions from the forest estate for the establishment of agricultural cropland. The unfortunate impression has thus been created that the forest estate exists as a land bank as the demands for de-reservation continue nationwide.
Ban on wood export: In addition, the ban on log and sawn timber export has contributed significantly to this inefficiency by keeping prices lower than their true competitive levels. This has continued to protect the inefficiency of the wood industry. According to this World Bank study’s analysis, four states (for which complete data are available) subsidized the forest industry to the tune of US $6.5 million in 2003 through a failure to adjust their fees to their real levels and a failure to capture revenues lost through illegal logging. This study estimated that between 2001 and 2003, the four states lost US $ 18.7 million from these sources.
A growing rural population and migration to the agricultural frontier increases the pressure on forests. An increasing population in urban and rural areas also raises the demand for food and other land-based commodities, thus, requiring more land to produce them.
Technological improvements can affect deforestation rates. The adoption of land extensive technologies inevitably results in the expansion of agriculture at the expense of forests.
Sacred groves and forest areas are often protected from land conversion and degradation. However, other cultural factors exert pressure on forests. The majorities of forest communities with a few exceptions is unaware of any alternatives to unsustainable exploitation and are often divided amongst themselves as to how to best exploit the forests for their development. In a typical village individuals supported by logging interests are often pitted against hunters and NTFP collectors. Chiefs are often compromised by loggers and are unable to protect the forests for the good of the majority in the village who may depend on NTFPs and bush meat and other forest products to supplement farming income. Divided communities are often far more vulnerable to predatory logging interests and so within a few generations, their forests are cleared while the villages remain poor.