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Environmental expert raises alarm over level of deforestation in Cross River

Mr Ken Henshaw, the Executive Director, We the People, an environmental advocacy group, has raised alarm over the level of deforestation in Cross River State.

Henshaw made the expression on Friday in Calabar at a round table discussion on the theme: “Fostering Strategies and Partnership for Forest Protection in Cross River”

He said that the current level of deforestation in the state could be described as ‘the fastest anywhere around the world’

Henshaw who was quoting data from the Global Forest Watch Platform, described the situation as ‘alarming and disturbing’

“Logging has taken an unbelievable dimension since the current administration in the state lifted ban on it.

“The administration merely set up a new forestry commission without addressing the key drivers of the illegal activity,” he said.

The executive director said that the state government introduced a scheme that permitted people to log identified trees and pay taxes to it.

“This means that the illegal activity has yet to be addressed. At the moment, the report we get from the field is even worse than that of 2023.

“The state government should not see the forest as a resource that can only bring revenue through logging,” she said.

Henshaw said that there were other non timber revenue sources that could be legally explored and tapped from the forests.

He said that the challenge of deforestation had taken a new twist as hundreds of young men had invaded the forests mining for solid minerals.

On his part, the Chairman, Cross River Forestry Commission, Mr George Oben-Etchi said that massive sensitisation was needed to educate rural communities on the dangers of deforestation.

Oben-Etchi said that the commission was challenged by the issues of poor funding, dearth of manpower and outdated laws.

He said that irrespective of the challenges, the commission would continue to do its best to tackle logging activities in the state.

A Calabar-based environmental expert, Mr Odigha Odigha, said that residents of the state should rise up in defence of their environment by tackling the growing level of logging.

“It will be wrong to blame the government alone, the problem is our own, we should rise up to tackle it,” he said.

Odigha, a former Chairman, Cross River Forestry Commission, called for collaborative efforts to fight illegal logging activities in the forests.

“Before now, it used to rain in Calabar all year round, but gradually the rains are getting scarcer and giving way to intense heat,” he said.

(NAN)

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