18 November 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — THE Tropical Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria, TWEAN, has warned that Nigerian government risks sanctions from international bodies if it remains unfriendly to the environment by way of sustainable management of its forests.
Speaking to Sweetcrudereport in Lagos recently, the Secretary General of the group, Mr. Joseph Odiase, said that the action of most state governments is at variance with the aforestation policy of cut one tree and plant two.
Odiase also disclosed that for every container of wood that leaves the country as export, a certain amount is paid into the Treasury Single Account, TSA, for the sustainable management of the nation’s forests.
He further explained that the monies paid by wood exporters is the re-planting of trees.
The policy, according to Odiase, is to sustainably manage the nation’s forests while protecting the environment from the adverse impact of tree cutting.
He explained that regeneration of trees is a function of the state governments because the land, according to him, belongs to the state government.
“But the state government is not managing the aforestation programme very well, they collect revenue from forest concessionaires and they do not plant back these trees that are cut.
“Before you can take wood from the forest, the state government will give you a concession, they can give you a certain portion to get your wood from.
“The state governments do not apply monies made from wood exporters to the re-aforestation programme.
“Besides the effect on wood export business, the international community will see Nigeria as not being friendly to the environment and this could affect the country negatively.
“For instance, if Nigeria is seen not to be implementing sustainable forest management, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITIS could suspend Nigeria from trading in endangered species of fauna and flora.
“So it is our responsibility to ensure that the government applies these funds for the purpose sustainable forest management”, he stated.
On ensuring that government maintains a judicious expenditure of the National Forest Trust Fund, Odiase disclosed that the wood exporters are represented on the board of the Fund adding that exporters interact with the government every now and then to see what government is doing.
He stated: “We cooperate with them to ensure that what needs to be done is done for the sustenance of this business because we know that even though we as businessmen will lose, the country will more.
“The onus lies on us to ensure that the government does what is right for the sustainability of both the forest and the environment.”
The TWEAN scribe also expressed concern over the future of wood export business due to government’s inability to abide by the policy.