BY: Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
Stakeholders at the end of a workshop on ‘Understanding Community Perspevtive of the Cross River state Forestry Law (2010), and Community Sensitisation on the need for Sustainable natural resource management”, rose up with a communique calling for the review of moratorium on logging with a view to ensure a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management in the state.
The communique said there is urgent need to review the abused moratorium on logging with the view to putting in place a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management.
It observed with dismay the high rate of illegal forest activities and wanton degradation of the remaining pristine rain forest of Cross River state that had resulted to complete social breakdown in our communities, insecurity on the part of the traditional rulers, intra and inter communal conflicts, income loss, resource leakages, social exclusion, apathy and anarchy.
It also observed with disappointment the ineffectiveness of government institutional arrangements responsible for the policing of the Cross River State Forest estate, with an ineffective moratorium on logging which under normal circumstance would have been a veritable government measure for effective forest monitoring and management.
The communique sued for adequate integration of the communities in the management of the forest in line with the provisions of the Cross River State forestry policy.
It sought the provision of meaningful incentives for communities and groups supporting sustainable forest management, through sustainable livelihood options, and introduction of agroforestry practices and deforestation/ Afforestation targeting most threatened indigenous tree species, as well as carry out intensive and targeted awareness raising campaign to instill the culture of conservation among all community groups therein.
Earlier, the host communities had prayed the Government of Cross River State and all development partners to urgently take bold steps to address the problem of forest loss, especially reviewing and lifting the moratorium, and put in place a sustainable forest management option for the State.
They declared “we the 14 communities around the Ekuri-Iko and okpon forest bloc are organizing and strengthening collaboration amongst ourselves to improve land governance, forest management including possible land and forest related conflicts within our jurisdiction. We seek the support of government and development partners to put in place a friendly, responsive, and inclusive system to support, strengthen, and reward our efforts”.
“Cross River State is our home, our only homeland is our ancestral communities, and our only resource the forest from which we derive our food, income, and resources for daily living. Our only reasonable choice therefore is to seek to protect it and we count on the Cross River State government and our development partners to support our aspirations for good forest governance in Cross River State.’
The one-day workshop was organized by Development Concern (DEVCON) with support from Birdlife International through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (Birdlife-CEPF) for EKIAO forest Conservation Initiative and Ifumkpa community held in Ifumkpa community, Akamkpa local government area, Cross River State on the 24th of February, 2022.
That EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative and her member communities which include Iko-Esai, Iko-Ekperem, Owai, Ifumkpa, Agoi Ekpo, Agoi Ibami, Iyamitate, Old Ekuri, New Ekuri, Okokori, Edondon, Etara, Eyeyen and Okuni.
The communique was signed by His Royal Highness,Ata-Obot Obio Arong Owai, Clan Head Esai Clan/ Chairman EKIAO Chiefs Coordinating council,DSP Godwin A. Esira (Rtd), Coordinator, and(EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative) respectively.