Chris Steven, Abuja
The Director General, Raw Materials Research Institute Council (RMDRC), Dr. Hussaini Ibrahim has revealed that Nigeria has lost 52 million hectares of forests in less than 100 years due to population grow and human activities.
He equally said that the country also loses 26,000 hectares of forests land annually in the rainforest zone of the country during the conversation of natural forests to plantation forests and other land use.
Dr.Ibrahim revealed this on Monday in Abuja at the 2016 International Day for Biodiversity, with the theme; Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and Their Livelihoods.
According to him, “within the last few decades, rapid population growth and the resultant anthropogenic activities have exerted great pressure on the stability of the natural, as well as man-made environments.”
Ibrahim added that most of these activities such as agriculture, urbanisation, road construction, flood system, chemical nutrients, minerals exploitation, solid waste pollution, industrialisation among others are driving factors to forest depletion and lost of biodiversity globally.
He explained that the estimates of forest losses in Africa were observed to be higher in the past two decades, stressing; “between 1990 and 2000, the continent lost 52 million hectares of its forestsaccounting for about 56 percent of global reduction in less than 100 years.”
Continuing, Ibrahim stated that, “Nigeria has lost 50 million hectares of forests in less than 100 years . Recent studies show 484 plant species in 12 families of the 4,600 plant species in the country to be endangered.”
He also noted that about 205 of these species are endemic and their loss mean extinction from the earth; stressing that the inherent danger in species extinction in Nigeria was that between root crops in the south and the grains in the north, that there are over 300 edible plants in Nigeria, but noted that only 20 of these crops are produced in commercial quantities.
The DG said that despite the contribution of biodiversity to commerce and modern industrial processes, he said recent studies have indicated that an estimated 4% of global economy is based on biological products and processes, adding that the resources are still being wantonly depleted in the country.
Ibrahim also revealed that the forest resources survey,1996-1998 showed that the forest cover in Nigeria has decreased by 20% over the preceding 18 years, saying that the total forest estate which stood at 10% of the country’s land area in 1996 was now less down 6%.
He noted: “In addition, about 26,000 hectares of forests land are being destroyed annually in the rainforest zone of the country during the conversation of natural forests to plantation forests and other land use.”
“Deforestation is responsible for accelerated solid erosion that is ravaging many parts of the country, and affecting lives of over 50 million people, while desertification is affecting over 30 million people in Northern parts of the country,” Ibrahim said.
In her address, the Minister of Environment, Amina Muhammad said that federal government recognises the critical need to maintain genetic, species and ecosystems diversity and resilience in addressing natural disasters and reinforcing people’s livelihoods and health care.
Against this background, she said government would therefore domesticate the Convention on Biological Diversity in the ministry to assume the same status and reliance as the other two Rio conventions.
Muhammad who was represented by the the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Bukar Hassan stated that, ” government will implement the 2016-2020 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) prepared in line with the global strategic plan biodiversity. In 2011-2020, and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets and National priorities and circumstances.”
She noted that NBSAP action plan was an embodiment of how synergetic actions within the environment sector and linkages with other economic sectors could be profitable in addressing the threats to biodiversity and halting its loss.
The minister said that government has established National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) by an Act of National assembly and the assent of the president to guarantee the well being of the people, while also ensuring that the indigenous biodiversity are not altered or wiped out by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) that are products of biotechnology.
Muhammad also emphasised that government is committed to restore critically threatened ecosystems like the fast disappearing Lake Chad Basin and the mangrove ecosystems including the highly polluted Niger Delta wetlands in order to sustain the livelihoods of many Nigerians.