Cross River State in Nigeria is facing a severe deforestation crisis due to illegal logging, prompting urgent intervention. A conference was organized by ‘We The People (WTP)’ and ‘Panacea for Development and Infrastructural Challenges for Africa Initiative (PADIC-AFRICA)’ to address the issue. Stakeholders, including community members, traditional leaders, civil society organizations, and relevant government bodies, discussed the challenges faced in preserving the state’s forests.
They highlighted the significant threat illegal logging poses to climate change mitigation and the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. Moreover, armed loggers resistant to authorities have exacerbated the security concerns.
The conference exposed the depletion of a substantial area of the Cross River rain and mangrove forests due to unregulated logging. Existing forest management laws were deemed insufficient to protect and conserve the forests effectively, resulting in persistent degradation. Forest communities have been marginalized and excluded from decision-making processes, exacerbating the challenges faced in forest protection.
The lack of political will on the part of authorities was also noted, with allegations that government officials aid and abet illegal logging. The extent of deforestation and forest cover loss in Cross River State raises doubts about its claim as the home of West Africa’s largest bristle rainforest.
Urgent action is required from the state government and stakeholders to combat deforestation, strengthen forest management, and involve local communities in decision-making processes. This collective effort is crucial to addressing the environmental crisis and ensuring the preservation of Cross River State’s invaluable natural resources.