By Chidinma Agu
Lagos – The President, Forestry Association of Nigeria (FAN), Prof. Labode Popoola, on Monday commended the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for proposing to set up a Forestry Trust Fund.
The FEC, at its meeting on May 24, proposed that a forestry trust fund should be set in the country.
Popoola told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos in an interview that the Forestry Trust Fund was long overdue.
According to him, the proposal to set up a Forestry Trust Fund for the country is, however, a welcome development.
“We had a Forestry Trust Fund at a time in some states but it had not been active. However, the lifting of the ban on all categories of wood exports is the problem.
“Wood is a commodity of trade and it is needed for industrialisation and development.
“To that extent, the lifting of the ban on its exportation is expected to enhance trade and commerce, generate employment and earn foreign exchange for the country.
“However, the question remains as to whether we have enough forests to sustain the likely onslaught that may follow the lifting of the ban.
“My informed answer to this is NO,’’ he said.
Popoola said that for over 40 years now, Nigeria had not managed its forests sustainably, adding that the ecosystem integrity of the nation’s forests had been badly damaged.
“The capacity of our forest estates as of now cannot support massive wood exports.
“Our environment will be in peril and the costs of endangering our environment will far outweigh the immediate benefits that we hope to derive from massive wood exports,’’ he said.
The Professor said that allowing wood exporters to finance the trust fund was an innovative forest financing mechanism.
According to him, all over the world, such projects are financed through taxes and through the principle that the polluter must pay.
He said that wood exporters and users were polluters, adding that the important thing should be the mechanism for collecting such…