By Godwin Otang
The Cross River State Forestry Commission has called for synergy across all stakeholders to ensure sustainable forest management in Cross River State, as the Commission rallies stakeholders to plan for sustainable forest management in the State.
This was the focus of the multi-stakeholder meeting held in Calabar on Wednesday, October 18, 2023. The meeting was hosted by the new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commission, Dr George Oben-Echi, and commissioners from the commission featuring multiple stakeholders across the forestry sector.
Addressing Journalists shortly after the meeting, the Chairman, Dr George Oben-Echi, explained: “After a couple of meetings, we thought it wise to engage with our stakeholders – the NGOs, the Civil Societies, the National Park, and many others. The second phase is going to be with the communities themselves. A couple of things have happened over the ebb year: people have been logging illegally due to the ban on logging.
“Once you were able to bribe, you are able to carry logs out of this State. But with the lifting of the ban, there is room for sustainable forest management; we must take steps now to make sure there is regeneration. We want to raise nurseries across the State to replant trees.
Oben-Echi warned that activities in the sector won’t be business as usual.
The Zonal Director, South-South for Earth Environment Climate Care Ambassadors (ECCA) Dr. Eyo Orok Edet, advised that the Forestry Commission should first carry out a Post Impact Assessment (PIA) on the State’s forest to ascertain the extent of forest damage.
“The post-impact assessment will show if the entire forest has been exploited. That will expose what’s going on in the environment. We have the biophysical component, social component, and health component. A lot of regulatory frameworks will also be taken. So that we can be able to document what’s going on in the environment. It’s going to give us a compendium of the status of the environment.”
Stakeholders say the meeting is the first in a long while from the Commission as they commend the political will in the setting up of the Commission even as sundry issues about the forestry sector were also discussed.
Timber dealers, wildlife conservatives, national park administrators, and several other stakeholders graced the event.