Cross River seeks review of UN forest conservation scheme

Cross River known for its support for forest conservation wants the review of the REDD scheme to meet community aspirations. The state also plans to establish green police to grow new trees and safeguard existing forest. 

BOTHERED that the implementation of the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) programme in Nigeria is falling short of set objectives, Cross River State government has called on development agencies to review the scheme.

The state is piloting the forest programme set up in September 2008, jointly run by three United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). REDD is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

Governor Ben Ayade who spoke at the Paris Climate Change Summit, said that the REDD programme needs to be reconstructed to reflect the peculiarities of the African situation. “The REDD readiness programme is a little to scientific and complicated for the basic needs of man. The whole essence of the REDD programme is to reduce emission and carbon footprint, it is to stop forest degradation.”

The Professor of Environmental Science and leader of the African Governors Forum for Climate Change, explained that this year’s theme for Carnival was chosen to create awareness on reality of climate change and need to build a green economy. “We are using a solution that is practical, Afrocentric, and creates green jobs.

“I am looking at establishing a green police, massive number of young men and women whose business is to grow new trees and safeguard existing forest. But don’t forget, trees that are old always have a stock of hydro carbon stored in them their ability to assimilate and take up carbon dioxide is lower than young plants,” said.

 Ayade stressed that Africans own the largest tropical rainforest that stands at the middle between the West and East, a place that sinks all the carbon dioxide that comes even from the  US, Canada, Asia, and should always come to negotiations to  seek partnership, and  technology, not funding. “Africa is rich, we don’t need money but partnership that is the only way we can move forward, we must give identity and honour to our colour.”

He warned that mitigation measures focusing on renewable technology are harmful to  the Nigeria’s  economy. “Renewable energy is not the way for Africans at this point in time, renewable energy means putting an end to the sale of our hydrocarbon, it means Nigeria should stop exporting crude oil, but they are busy doing research, inventing technology using solar energy and wind power.

“When all of that happens, when the oil price goes down, when we stop producing oil, what are we going to use as an alternative? There will be dis-balancing of livelihood, and renewable energy must follow with development, technology, and Africa cannot be in a haste to adopt renewable technology.”

“I would rather have us use fossil fuel with mitigate measures than to cap it and focus on renewable energy. While that technology works for them, it is harmful for our economy and until we provide an alternative economy, for now we can’t cap it,” he said.

The governor wants Africans to reinvent themselves through their key resources – forests and explore mitigation options. “African must continue to survive and feed. Our key resource is our forest, for the developed country, their key resource is their technology. So, while they struggle to send technology into Africa, we are told to stop deforestation and maintain our forest stock so we can conserve carbon.

“As Africans, we must shut our doors and reinvent ourselves, adaptation is not the way to go because it is adjusting ourselves to live with the situation, mitigation is the way to go; when we are dealing with mitigation the focus would have been planting more trees, and seeing how we can go for greener technology.”


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