Military to Partner Ministry of Environment to Preserve Nigeria’s Forest, Wildlife


The military and the Ministry of Environment have agreed to partner in the protection and preservation of the nation’s forests and wildlife.

The agreement was reached on Wednesday during a visit of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa and his team to the Ministry of Environment in Abuja.

The Minister of Environment, Balarabe Lawal said the partnership will foster the attainment of the country's environmental goals and climate action.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)‘s Organised Crime Threat Assessment for Nigeria for 2023 has found that Nigeria is a key transit hub and consolidation point for various forms of illegal trade in wildlife and forest products, especially for pangolin, ivory, and rosewood.

The UNODC had decried that there were more than 1,000 records between 2011 and 2020 that indicate Nigeria as a source, transit, or destination country.

The FG had also lamented that Nigeria's forest cover is diminishing and that at present only about three per cent of Nigeria's forest cover remains, instead of acceptable 25 per cent.

Lawal during the meeting with the CDS said: “For the first time in Nigeria, it has been observed that from February till date, the weather has been very hot, which shows that there is a very serious climate change in Nigeria. We need to take care of our environment because that is where we live.

"I believe that we need your support in achieving that. We need your strong support in the area of forest protection. The forest cover in Nigeria is about three per cent now. So, we need to move to stop illegal wood logging and the exportation of wood.

"Secondly, we have the issue of illegal poaching of wildlife. Recently there was the killing of two elephants in Borno state, and we have only a few in the country, in Nigeria, we have less than 200 of them. We are also confronted with the issue of poaching of pangolins. So, we need your support to protect the wildlife.

"We also look at the issue of turning wastes into wealth. We have a lot of waste in the country, so we are trying to create a circular economy around it. We are trying to create employment, energy around wastes."

The minister noted that a roadmap for the circular economy has been developed to guide Nigeria's transition to a circular economy.

On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff said efforts are being made to address illegal oil bunkering, and soot in the country.

He promised that: “We will continue to do our best to protect the environment because it's a running battle. So, we are here as part of the efforts to ensure that we develop synergy and have a better understanding for the good of the country.

"The environment is everything because without it, there can't be humans and it is critical for us at the Armed Forces, especially in the aspect of security. Now we have seen the effects of climate change all over and how it's affecting lives and we need to innovate ways of tackling climate change.

"I want to assure you that the Armed Forces is ready to support you because working together as a team is better."

 He decried that criminals, bandits, and other non-state actors take advantage of the forests to carry out heinous crimes.”

He admitted that: “We can partner to ensure the security of those places and tell you that we are ready to give you all the support. We will ensure that our forests remain very viable.”

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