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Africa: Cross River State to embark on forest regeneration ahead of 2020 Green Carnival

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Cross River State is set to embark on city capping, beautification of urban areas, tree planting, forest regeneration as well as the preparatory aspect ahead of the 2020 Green Carnival.

City capping provides a refined finishing touch to any vertical surface and improve the aesthetics

The Special Adviser Afforestation, to the governor, Hon. Bette Philip Obi intimated the media team led by the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor On Communication and Advocacy on some topical issues that borders on his activities since his assumed office.

Hon Obi noted that, in line with Governor Ayade’s dream and passion for the environment and especially the regeneration of the state’s forests reserves that are highly degraded right now, his office has taken on proactive measures to develop both high yielding, fast growing indigenous and ornamental species of nursery plants in the Central, South and Northern Senatorial districts of the State.

He firmly made reference to the Lord Lugard’s Wall Forest in Alifokpa Yala local Government Area Of Cross River State which stands at one of the border points between Cross River State and Benue State.

Hon. Obi posited that one of his dream as the Special Adviser Afforestation is to develop massive nurseries of indigenous plants that will be planted to regenerate the forest that was cut down as a result of some security issues on that area while he was Chairman Forestry Commission as earlier agreed by both Communities. Adding that with the strong backings that his office is receiving from the Governor, both his dream and that of the Governor for forest regeneration would be cheaply achieved for the State.

While commenting on the preparatory modules ahead of the 2020 Green Carnival, Hon Obi further noted that last year, over 48 Million naira was spent on buying seedlings within and out of Cross River State; that’s why this year his department has taken major proactive steps by starting early to develop nurseries that will be readily available by July to serve the whole essence of the Green Carnival Programme.

Hon. Obi further said that as the former Chairman, Forestry Commission, he is quite aware of the damage been done to our forests and because of that, he is encouraged by the enthusiasm of His Excellency Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade to ensure that these forests are regenerated . Promising to use his wealth of experience in collaboration with the ministry of climate change and Forestry Commission to engage the federal government and the international communities to assist Cross River State in this massive tree planting exercise that we will be Implementing in the 2020 Green Carnival.

while asked to envisage on the prospects of Afforestation and forests covers in Cross River State in the nearest future, Hon Obi reiterated that there is no gainsaying that Cross River State is taking the lead with its rich forest reserve and he re-emphasized that he is extremely happy that Governor Ben Ayade is maintaining the lead and it will be very difficult for any other State in Nigeria to compete with Cross River State in terms of sustainable forest management because from the natural standpoint we have about fifty-five to fifty-eight percent of the Nigerian forests cover.

He posited that despite the land encroachment by other neighbouring States, his department is encouraged to do its best in order to recreate the forests reserves through the continuous process of beat-up across our Senatorial districts. He further reiterated that himself and the present Chairman Forestry Commission will be carrying out massive Advocacy and Sensitization tour to engage with the Community by way of educating them to key into the tree planting initiative of the State Government.

On his part, the permanent secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry, Mr. Timothy Ogbang Akwaji described Cross River State as a gift to the whole world. Stating that there is no State in Nigeria and West Africa that is biologically diversed as Cross River State. He further reteriated that Cross River holds over fifty percent of the last remaining tropical rainforest in Nigeria and it is also listed as one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the whole

Noting that when you have a professor who is an environmentalist as Governor, naturally he will want to sustain that gift and placement of Cross River State. He added that, Cross River State because of the forests potentials is a signatory to the under_2 Coalition and a member of the Governor’s Climate and Forest Taskforce which are both foreign climate change mitigation organizations. Adjudging that from this standpoint, Cross River State because of her rich forests potentials plays several roles in climate change mitigation especially when it comes to carbon sequestration.

On the Ministry’s level of preparedness ahead of the 2020 Green Carnival, Mr Akwaji said, the Green Carnival is a wake-up call by the Cross River State Government to institutionalize the culture of tree planting so that the indigenes will value what they have and understand that without the forests, we cannot have food, home for our wildlife and even timber for our wood.

He noted that we are advancing towards sustainable forests management with the use of the local species intended to replenish our degraded forest reserves and the city centres, the Ministry intends to support the special adviser on afforestation to develop fast growing ornamental plants for city capping and urban beautification which Cross River State has become very recognized for.

According to Mr. Akwaji, Cross River State has about 14 forest reserves but one of our major problem as a State is that of illegal exploitation of timber. So in an effort to combat that menace, we must collectively work as a State now so that our future generations will still be proud of our God’s given heritage.

While asked to give an update on the Governor’s initiative on city capping, beautification of green areas and the tree planting initiative upon resumption of office in 2015, Mr Akwaji had this to say that the Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry had opened urban Afforestation lots since the inception of this administration in 2015 at various points across the city of Calabar and that this was done to coincide with the annual Christmas festival.

So the planting was done in December and they have had to contend with the issue of watering the plants so they can survive but in the wisdom of His Excellency, he had come to say that in 2019, the wet-season planting edition should be adopted and that was done in July, 2019 and the growth rate was fantastic because that coincided with when the rains were on. And as such, there is no street in the city of Calabar that you won’t see seedlings flourishing well courtesy of Governor Ben Ayade’s led administration.

He further stated that with regards to monitoring and evaluation, the Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry has a desk officer in charge of the trees planted to ensure they do well through the continuous process of beat-up.

Mr Akwaji affirmed that in 2020 the Ministry Of Climate Change is going into specifics as they are not only going to meet the timber needs of the people by regenerating the forests but also going to look at issues like food security that is why they have equally cultivated species like the avengers species, the bush mango so that the people can also benefit from the tree planting. And as for the city capping programme, the intention is for beautification and climate change mitigation. Promising that, the initiative will also advance beyond Calabar to other 5 urban cities of Cross River State.

He concluded by saying that in 2019, over a million trees were planted in one day but the unfortunate thing was that about 90 percent of the seedlings were outsourced from all States of the federation and His Excellency announced that indigenes of the State should key into this project so by this year’s green carnival they will not have to go outside the State again to source for nurseries and the capital flight that occurred in 2019 would not be re-occuring as indigenes will be supplying plus the fact that the Forestry Commission has given a matching order to forests officers, zonal forests officers and the various charges to also replicate what the Special Adviser Afforestation is doing so we will have enough seedlings to replenish our degraded forests reserves and also keep our urban centres clean and green.

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