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Don't Sell Forests, Groups Urge Nigerian Govts

Don't Sell Forests, Groups Urge Nigerian Govts

A round table strategic meeting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), has kicked against continued selling of forests by communities and governments in Nigeria

The meeting which was organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in collaboration with Rainforest Research Development Centre and GREENCODE, on August 18, 2010, said forests are human eco-systems.

In a communique e-mailed to AkanimoReports on Thursday by Mr. Philip Jakpor, Spokesperson for ERA, the thrust of the meeting was to build the capacity of critical stakeholders to understand, analyze, criticize and resist the REDD scheme prior to its adoption in Nigeria. Participants were drawn from non-governmental organizations, representatives of civil society groups, forests communities and students from Calabar.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of ERA and Chair, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Nnimmo Bassey said that forests in Cross River State have been targeted for the REDD in Nigeria hence the need for participants to uncover any cover-ups by government which is detrimental to community forests and the environment.

Presentations and positions articulated by the resource persons, actions and reactions from the representatives of CSO’s, forest communities and individuals, during the incisive brainstorming session, formed the basis for observations which were made and articulated thus:

Participants at the Calabar meeting observed that:

* Forests in Cross Rivers State-some of the few remaining tracks of mangrove and rainforest reserve in the world targeted for REDD are in grave danger due to the scheme.

* Carbon trading/market mechanism promoted by the REDD are false solutions to climate change.

* REDD promotes deforestation, more plantation and corporate land grabs.

* Nigeria’s forest dependent poor may be forcefully evicted from their land and denied access to the forests that form basis of their culture and livelihoods by the REDD.

* Forest-dependent communities that have been the original custodian of native forests have not been engaged or incorporated by government in the REDD negotiation process.

* Awareness on REDD is very low at all levels of engagement in Nigeria as there are obvious capacity gaps among government negotiators on the REDD debate.

* REDD attraction for the Nigerian government is the huge fund involved not the devastating environmental and socio-cultural implications.

* There are no plans to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on all REDD targeted forest communities in Nigeria.

* The World Bank and other financial institutions that have invested disproportionately by acting as climate bank to the detriment of our forests and environment should not be the instrument through which funds mobilized for addressing climate change should be channeled.

* African, particularly Nigerian forests and environment are in crises and require urgent action to rescue them from the path of grave degradation and consequences.

Recognising that forests play key roles in human lives, they resolved that protection of forests and environment in Nigeria is a duty citizens owe the earth and humanity.

According to them, ''forests must be out of Carbon markets if there should be REDD. Forest is not for sale! It is our life and source of livelihoods for millions of forest-dependent peoples in forest-bearing communities in Africa. World Bank, IMF, UNEP and other multilateral institutions should hands off our forests''.

Continuing, they said government at all levels in Nigeria should take honest and practical steps in reducing deforestation and climate change instead of gambling and trading with our forests, adding, ''plantations are not Forests. REDD should reward community people who protect the forests and not drivers of deforestation and degradation like plantation merchants and unsustainable logging contractors''.

''The Nigerian Government'', they went on, ''should actively engage forest community dwellers; civil society groups in the ongoing REDD negotiation process and adopt Community forest management practices as one of the concrete solutions to climate change.

''All civil society groups on environment in Nigeria and Africa must deepen their struggles against environmental and climate injustices by building alliances, solidarity and sharing experiences on REDD and its versions.

''Government should conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on REDD in targeted forest communities.

''Governments should engage civil society groups and forest community people in the entire REDD process.

''Allowing rich countries to keep polluting in the North otherwise known as annex 1 countries and coming to the south addressed as third world countries to cultivate plantations for rubber, palm oil, agro fuels, and palm oil is not the answer to climate change. This is unacceptable. They owe us an ecological debt as a result of colonialism and inequitable use of global commons and disproportionate contribution to emissions that have resulted in climate change.

''Awareness should be raised at all levels on the implications of REDD''. ENDS


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