Poaching: How Prepared Is State Guard To Protect Our Forests?

THE seemingly violation of the nation’s
forest by poachers, called for
emergency solution. In Delta State,
the situation is growing at alarming proportion,
as the suspects enjoy field day,
violating the forest, in the process, heightening
the cases of illegal logging, deforestation
and massive depopulation of wild
life and tree population, thus, paving way
for extinction of trees and animals.
This unguarded situation, as a matter
of fact, has exposed the forest to series
of violation, despite the presence of the
state forest guard men in the forest,
saddled with the responsibility to protect
the forest. Sad enough, this violation is
reportedly taking place daily, as heavily
loaded trucks are seen leaving the forests,
without interrogation, in the process causing
series of damages to wild life and tree
population, and thus, accelerating the
devastating impacts of desertification and
global warming.
The unguarded activities of poachers in
our forest may not be unconnected with
the reported growing rate of extinction of
some animal and tree species.
The disappearance of such animal and
plant species from our forests, according
to our respondents, is a day light robbery
to Deltans, as handful and faceless individuals,
violate the forest in their quest
to enrich themselves.
While other states, especially, state like
Cross River State, within the same Niger
Delta region with Delta State, noted one
of our respondents, Mr. David Ijeh, can
protect and preserve its forest, turning it into gold mine, through ‘Tourism,’ ‘‘while
poachers,’’ he said, ‘‘enjoy field day in our
rich forests.’’
Another respondent, Mrs. Rita Ojore
added, ‘‘today, some popular economic
trees and tourism- boosting animals
have disappeared from our large forests,
across the state, to the infamous activities
of poachers and loggers.’’
However, Trees, such as the iroko (milicia
excelsa) tree, a large hardwood tree
from west coast of tropical Africa, mostly found in rainfall forest, especially
southern Nigeria, popularly
sought for, due to the durability
of its wood, is seriously roped in
extinction threat.
The Iroko, is sacred to the Yoruba
and Igbo people in Nigeria.
The tree is feared and hence is
shunned or revered with offerings,
but today the story has
changed.
Earlier this year, scientists
from the Nigeria-based International
Institute of Tropical
Agriculture (IITA) and partners
made efforts to raise awareness
of the need to preserve biodiversity,
especially, in forests
that are increasingly becoming
lost or threatened. For example,
statistics indicate that Nigeria’s
Milicia excelsa (iroko) has become
endangered, with about
US$ 100 million worth of iroko
timber illegally poached from
remaining forests last year. “The unfortunate thing is that these very
valuable trees are not being replaced,” Mr
Peacock notes.
At IITA’s venues in Ibadan, a large area
has been forested by a canopy of seldom
and fine tropical tree species. In 1979, an
arboretum was established comprising
152 different tree species, 81 of which
are indigenous. Mr Peacock says the IITA
project plans to increase the forest area
and the IITA arboretum with the planting
of more indigenous trees. Seeds from these trees again will be used
for reforestation projects all over Nigeria.
Mr Peacock and his team said they are
hopeful that through reforestation and
education, the rate of deforestation in
Nigeria in particular and Africa in general
“will be significantly reduced.”
Preserving Nigeria’s surviving tropical
forests and planting new trees to replace
those lost to deforestation “offers great
benefits,” according to researchers, both
to the climate and to agriculture.
Scientists from the IITA held that reforestation
and forest conservation “could
help reduce the severity of climate change
by absorbing more carbon from the air, and
ease the local impact of climate change by
regulating local weather conditions.” They
also cite the forests’ roles as watersheds,
defences against soil erosion and conservation
pools for biodiversity.
“But reforestation and education on the
benefits of conservation are critical to
stemming and reclaiming Africa’s lost forest
and biodiversity,” says Dr John Peacock,
a senior scientist at IITA.
At IITA headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria,
scientists for a long time have been engaged
in tree-planting, both for research
and for environmental reasons.
The renewed effort in planting of trees
comes at a time when deforestation rate in
Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation –
has reached an alarming rate of 3.5 percent
per year, translating to a loss of 350,000-
400,000 hectares of forest per year.

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