By CrossRiverWatch admin
The Cross River State Governor Elect, Senator Ben Ayade has refuted reports in some sections of the media that he said his administration was negotiating a deal with Morgan Stanley to buy off the state debts in exchange for lumbering of the State forest reserves.
In an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch, the governor elect who is also a Professor of Environmental Science said he had a clear understanding of the value of the reserved forest and was only planning new ways on how to create an economy and ensure the state can optimally benefit from the conserved areas.
Below is a section of the interview relating to the forests, while the full interview, which encompassed myriad issues about the state, will be published in the May 29, 2015 hard copy edition of CrossRiverWatch Magazine.
Some sections of the press have quoted you as saying Morgan Stanley will buy off the State debts in exchange for our reserved forests. As an environmentalist yourself, you understand the impact that will have on the biodiversity of the reserved forests, there is a need for some clarification Sir, what is the relationship between the three: Morgan Stanley, our forests and our debts?
I always spoke to you or the press giving an example of a financial institution you can relate with to assist you manage your debt, for example Morgan Stanley. I did not say Morgan Stanley wants to buy our debts. The press must have reported that in error because Morgan Stanley does not buy debts, they are not investors. Basically, what I said about the forests is that, we are into forest conservation, and the spirit and intention of the conservation is that we want to preserve the environment.
I’m a Professor of Environmental Science and so that falls into my core specialty; unfortunately as we preserve and continue to sustain the forests, the expectation optimally is that the World Bank and indeed the international community including the United Nations must recognize the efforts of your conservation of the forest and so we are supposed to actually use that opportunity to benefit from REID, emission reduction program, we are supposed to benefit from the carbon credit and all of that. That has been difficult and has not been forthcoming but as you do conservation, the trees over a course of time begin to age. Their xylem and foliage vessels begin to atrophy.
Capillary uptake of water becomes challenging, so the trees age and die away in the course of time. But the actual uptake of carbon dioxide, which is the main function of this conservation of trees to reduce warming becomes more active with younger plants because of the wider opening of their stomatal pores and more effective xylem vessels. So basically, my own hope and plan is a new departure from what we have now, absolute conservation to where we are going to have an aggressive regeneration program which is a massive afforestation program because these young plants are much more active in carbon dioxide uptake than the old tired ones.
In fact, we have some trees that are forty years old in our forests, so the xylem have so curved that crevices have crept in, some plants grow on top of them so their assimilative capacity is now left so the trees are now standing there constituting nuisance in the forest; just adding unnecessary bio mass but if you replace the trees with younger ones that you will be managing very well with the theory that for any one you fell you are going to plant another, that takes care of afforestation.
So all those areas that have been previously deforested, degraded or abused, we are now going to amend those ones, cultivate them and it is one of the key areas I want to create jobs within the first ninety days. To have a team of young men who will be aggressively planting tree so that within three years the trees have grown to full maturity so we have a sufficient canopy cover and a more active carbon dioxide uptake; so as harmful as carbon dioxide seem, it will be helping to reduce the level of global warming. Therefore, it creates a delicate balance between utilization and reforestation and that is the balance I am seeking and that’s the difference from absolute conservation.
You need to use this your medium to actually explain it clearly so that people understand the difference. I have never at any point sought to wipe out the forests. As a Professor of Environmental Science, I have sought to rather increase our forests bio mass, increase our forest intensity and density; while also knowing that in doing so, we need to selectively pick out the old ones and allow younger ones to grow and of course within the forest itself we have too much forage on the top, and what happens is that some of the lower plants will start dying off so you need some bit of photosynthesis to occur and when sun rays fail to go through some of the plants begin to die underneath.
So that is forest management; the conservation just allows it to nature without management, without control and so you see a net negative effect. But what is even more worrisome is the fact that there is massive and heavy illegal lumbering that is occurring so if you go to our neighboring states and even in the Cameroons, you see a lot of the tress that are supposed to be coming out of the Cross River conserved areas including the National Park being felled, that’s why you have the likes of Peter Jerkings running around trying to arrest those people and ceasing the logs. So why don’t we have an effective control where there is a supersensical utilization which is highly balanced with aggressive afforestation? Creating jobs, creating an economy; that is balancing it. I am a Professor of that field so I know best how to do it.
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