Communities express dismay over wanton degradation of Cross River rainforests

Communities express dismay over wanton degradation of Cross River rainforests

… Call for review of moratorium on logging

Communities in Cross River under the EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative have expressed dismay over the wanton degradation of rainforests in the state due to illegal forest activities that have continued unabated in spite of an existing moratorium on logging.

The communities of Iko-Esai, Iko-Ekperem, Owai, Ifumkpa, Agoi Ekpo, Agoi Ibami, Iyamitate, Old Ekuri, New Ekuri, Okokori, Edondon, Etara, Eyeyen and Okuni which are signatories to the EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative, lamented that the illegal forest activities have occasioned both economic and social negations on members of the various communities who suffered the direction consequences.

The position of the communities was made known in a communique reached at the end of a one-day workshop on “Understanding Community Perspective of the Cross River State Forestry Law (2010), and Community Sensitization on the Need for Sustainable Natural Resource Management”, 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.

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The communique which was signed by HRH Ata-Obot Obio Arong Owai, Clan Head Esai Clan/Chairman EKIAO Chiefs Coordinating Council and DSP Godwin A. Esira (Rtd) Coordinator, EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative, states 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 observe with dismay the high rate of illegal forest activities and wanton degradation of the remaining pristine rainforest of Cross River State that has 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.

“The organization also observe 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.

“On the strength of the above observations, the following recommendations are hereby advanced;

“Review the abused moratorium on logging with the view to putting in place a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management in the State.

“Adequately integrate the communities in the management of the forest in line with the provisions of the Cross River State forestry policy.

“Provision of meaningful incentives for communities and groups supporting sustainable forest management, through sustainable livelihood options, and introduction of agroforestry practices.

“Reforestation/ Afforestation targeting most threatened indigenous tree species

“Carry out intensive and targeted awareness raising campaign to instill the culture of conservation among all community groups.

“We pray 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. 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.”

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