Stakeholders in the environmental sector on Thursday urged government at all levels to provide alternative livelihood to rural communities to shift their focus from deforestation in the country.
The stakeholders gave the advice while briefing newsmen in Abuja on the sidelines of a two-day conference on Conservation and Environmental Management in West Africa.
The conference which has its theme titled: Conservation, Collaboration beyond National Boundaries” is organised by Nigerian Conservation Foundation, an NGO.
Dr Osuji Otu, the National Professional Officer, National Science, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, urged the government to train rural people on agricultural farming businesses with start-off credit facilities to stop them from degrading the nation’s forests.
Otu said that government’s policy alone could not stop communities living within the forestation not to engage in deforestation.
Some communities use forest reserve to survive. They either kill animals or harvest wood products to make money.
So, if you want them to survive, you will give them alternative livelihood such fish farming, grass cutters farming, snail farming and bush animal production site.
This is like moving their eyes from the environment. It is easier to be a fish farmer and make money than burning wood to make charcoal,” he said.
According to him, if governments give them alternative livelihood to make money, their focus will shift from forest to that livelihood and they will not destroy forest any more.
It is because there is no alternative that is why they depend on forest system,” Out said.
Kwame Awere-Gyekye, the Technical Advisor, West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABICC), urged governments to intensify efforts to educate people on the ecosystem benefits of the forests and why forests should not be degraded.
Awere-Gyekye said that the ecosystem benefits of the forests included provision of clean water and fresh air, adding that if forests were degraded, spring water and cool air would be deserted in that area.
According to him, it is better to stop indiscriminate trees felling and timbers logging because of these ecosystem benefits forests provide.
Source: Voice of Nigeria