Stories by Stanley Onyekwer
To ensure rapid and comprehensive development of the vast forestry resources endowed in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), stakeholders have called for more stringent measures against menace of deforestation in the Territory.
The stakeholders spoke yesterday during a One-Day forum on Sustainable Forestry Development in FCT, organised by the FCT Agricultural And Rural Development Secretariat (ARDS), in Garki-Abuja.
They were drawn from traditional institutions, Area Councils, Non Governmental Organizations, Federal Ministry of Environment, National Parks and educational institutions amongst others to diagnose the situation, with the view of evolving a practical solution to the menace.
In his keynote address, FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, noted that over the years, development of forestry sub-sector in FCT has suffered setbacks due to deforestation and the resultant infrastructure development, fuel wood gathering, bush burning, illegal timber exploitation, unhealthy farming activities and charcoal production.
He added that though humans depend on forests for livelihood, they are allowing it to disappear leaving the 80% of land animals who depend on forests to become endangered and their survival threatened.
Represented by Secretary, Area Council Services Secretariat, Adamu Bappah, said to sustain the environment and replenish the forest, the administration will intensify it’s tree planting campaign in the FCT.
According to him, FCT Administration would provide seedlings and nursery for forest replenishment or afforestation.
“I want to assure you of our commitment to achieve sustainable food security for the residents of FCT and adequate management of forestry resources through the implementation of necessary policies that will help to harness the vast agricultural potentials of the Territory.
“Also, reforming the sector into one that will accelerate wealth creation and employment for our teeming youth as well as provide a boost for foreign exchange earnings through various agricultural sub-sectors including forestry.
Similarly, the ARDS Secretary, Stanley Nzekwe, who was represented by the Director of Finance and Administration, Dr. Musa Aliyu, while describing the Forum as first of its kind, explained that the it aimed at bringing everyone together to identify the immediate causes of dwindling forest resources nd to fashion out the way forward.
He assured that the recommendations and communique from the forum would be acted upon, and that by rainy season tree planting would start.
He however noted that since the inception of the ARDS the FCTA has engaged in the enforcement of enabling laws on deforestation and rigorous sensitization campaign and advocacy visits to Area Councils, to curtail illicit logging activities and encourage residents to plant more trees.
This, according to him, attests to the fact that FCTA has not relented in its effort towards ameliorating some of the devastating effect of climate change, majorly due to deforestation.
He stressed that Secretariat would check vigorously illegal felling of trees and other unwholesome activities responsible for deforestation in the FCT.
Also speaking, AMAC Supervisory Councilor Agriculture, Mohammed Salisu, who represented AMAC Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu Candido, called on community leaders and traditional rulers to help sustain the environment, by playing their roles as custodians of cultural heritage.
On his part, Ona of Abaji, Adamu Baba Yunusa expressed delight over the decision of the FCT Minister to set up high-powered committee to address the issue of forestry in FCT.
The monarch, represented by the Esu Kwali, Audu Shaban Nizazzo, called on the national Assembly to consciously enact a law that would preserve existing forestry in FCT, stressing that the culture of tree planting must revisited and sustained.
In a goodwill message, Rep Nigeria Conservative Foundation, Mohammad Garba, who stressed the importance of forestry to the livelihood of people hailed the FCT for taken Initiative to bolster forestry in FCT.
He therefore called for more synergy amongst stakeholders to ensure sustainable forestry development.
Similarly, Conservator General, National Parks, Ibrahim Musa, who was represented at the occasion, described the forum as apt and critical to promoting sustainable forestry development in FCT.
He declared the readiness of the national Parks to support the FCT in accelerating the forestry development in FCT.