Environmentalists warn monoculture, deforestation destroying remaining Nigeria’s rain forest

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With flooding and other effects of climate change increasing every day across the world, environmentalists and forestry experts have warned that deforestation was systematically destroying the remaining Nigeria’s rain forest and that deforestation itself was partly caused by monoculture plantation.

They made the remarks in Akamkpa local government area of Cross River state during a one day seminar to mark this year’s International Day Against Monoculture, with the theme, ‘The Impact of Deforestation and Making Women Voices Count Against Monoculture and Land Grabbing,’ and which was organized by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoE) Nigeria, in collaboration with Community Forest Watch, NGOCE and MOSOP.

Speaking, ERA/FoE Executive Director, Dr Godwin Ojo said “monoculture tree plantation is bad because of the high level chemical inputs such as herbicides and pesticides which put the world food system at great risk. It is also displacing small scale local farmers growing local staples such as yam, cassava and plantain.

“No matter what, trees of similar species cannot make a forest. Therefore the rich biodiversity associated with natural forest is lost in the case of monoculture such as oil palm plantations. The expansion is also endangering biodiversity.

“We raise our voices against increasing illegal logging of trees and the appropriation of community lands by the government to make way for monoculture agro-commodities that serve the interest of big agribusiness of multinationals and to the detriment of the impacted communities.”

In a presentation, Dr Ekpenyong Ita, Director of Forestry in the Cross River state Forestry Commission said the rate of deforestation in Nigeria has risen to 50 percent and that there may be no rain forest remaining in the next 100 years if deforestation continued.

He therefore advised that awareness campaigns be carried out on the ills of monoculture and deforestation and that community should come up with by-laws to check the menace of logging which, he said, breeds deforestation.

According to him, “if we continue with the monoculture practice, we will destroy the forest and lose our heritage because forest is life. When you remove forest, wildlife and human’s life will be negatively affected. Danger of removing forest is far higher than the acclaimed benefits.”

Also speaking, Controller of the Cross River National Park (CRNP) Caroline Olory, who described the forest as the treasure base of the nation, maintained that since Cross River State houses the largest chunk of the remaining rainforest in the country, there should be a collective efforts at its conservation.

In her remarks, Juliet Ntui of the Wild Life Conservation, charged women to speak out against the harm being done to Nigeria’s forest, positing that women were the ones more affected negatively by environmental degradation, and therefore tasked women to unite and speak with one voice for the sake of posterity.

Ntui who presented a paper on making women voices count against monoculture and land grabbing further said the fight against monoculture and deforestation would be won if women could form a coalition and a body with the goal of becoming an irresistible voice against the evils which she believed was threatening human race.

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