Posted date: March 28, 2008
KANO—Nigeria will lose all of its remaining forests in the next 12 years if the rate of deforestation remains unchecked, an environmental expert warned Thursday.
“Considering the rate at which trees are chopped down without any regeneration efforts … all of Nigeria’s forests will disappear by 2020,” Kabiru Yammama told AFP.
Yammama, who heads the National Forest Conservation Council (NFCCN), a body that acts as a consultant to the Nigerian government, said all forests in northern Nigeria have been depleted and deforestation is moving southwards.
“The north has lost virtually all its forests. Our 1999 survey showed that the rate of deforestation in northern Nigeria alone stood at 400,000 hectares per annum,” he said.
Nigeria uses 40.5 million tons of firewood every year, he said, adding: “Imagine the depredation wrought on the vegetation in the last decade.”
According to the most recent NFCCN report, released in 2007, 35 percent of arable land in 11 northern states has been swallowed by desert.
This has affected the livelihood of over 55 million people, more than the combined population of Mali, Burkina Fasso, Senegal and Mauritania.
Nigeria has the seventh-largest gas reserves in the world but has so far failed to harness them to produce affordable cooking gas, meaning the bulk of the population still relies on wood or charcoal for cooking.
“Now that the forests in the north are gone, attention has shifted to … southern Nigeria where trees are burnt for charcoal. This is more destructive than tree chopping because it is more rapid and kills all the flora and wildlife,” Yammama further warned.
“If this trend continues unchecked Nigeria will join the league of Ethiopia which has lost all its forests,” he said.
He cited desertification, rain shortages and drought as some of the consequences of deforestation that northern Nigeria is facing.
Earlier this month Nigeria’s meteorological agency warned that the rainy season is getting shorter, particularly in the north, where it has dropped to 120 days from 150 days 30 years ago.
Rain fell for even less than 120 days in the last crop season which adversely affected yields and sent food prices up.