Cross River communities raise concerns over illegal forests plundering

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14 communities Cross River State have called attention to the high rate of forest plundering by unauthorized persons and groups.

The communities say the careless destruction of their forests has led to the breakdown of law and order and insecurity on the part of the traditional rulers.

They claim the indiscriminate harvesting of their forest has resulted in communal conflicts, income loss, resource leakages, social exclusion, apathy and anarchy.

The communities which include Iko-Esai, Iko-Ekperem, Owai, Ifumkpa, Agoi Ekpo, Agoi Ibami, Iyamitate and Old Ekuri, New Ekuri, Okokori Edondon, Etara, Eyeyen and Okuni disclosed this when the EKIAO Forest Conservation Initiative held a one-day workshop on Understanding Community Perspective of the Cross River State Forestry Law (2010).

The communities said they were disappointed at the ineffectiveness of the government and the Cross River State Forest authorities.

They also frowned at the ineffective moratorium on logging which should have been a government measure for effective forest monitoring and management.

In a communique signed by their spokesperson, HRH Ata-Obot Obio Arong Owai, Clan Head Esai Clan and Chairman EKIAO Chiefs Coordinating council alongside the coordinator, DSP Godwin Esara (rtd), they called for a review of the moratorium on logging.

They stressed that such will put in place a workable plan and action for sustainable forest management in the State.

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

“There should be the provision of meaningful incentives for communities and groups supporting sustainable forest management, through sustainable livelihood options, and introduction of agroforestry practices.”

“We the 14 communities around the Ekuri-Iko and Okpon forest bloc call for aggressive reforestation and afforestation targeting most threatened indigenous tree species.

“We want government and development partners to urgently address the problem of forest loss, review and lift the moratorium.

“We want to improve land governance, forest management including possible land and forest-related conflicts within our jurisdiction. We need a friendly, responsive, and inclusive system to support, strengthen, and reward our efforts.”

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