The overall objective of this study is to assess the National Forest Programmes in Nigeria with a view to properly positioning their formulation and implementation.
This report is a product of intensive survey
of literature on Forest Resources and Forestry Development in Nigeria, complemented
by a series of discussions with the key stakeholders and partners in the Forestry
Forestry is administered in the country at the three tiers of government i.e. Federal, State and the Local Government Areas. The primary role of FDF is to formulate National Forest Policy.
It also plays an advisory role to the state Forestry Department; supports execution of Federally funded project and is responsible for relations with International Development Agencies. FDF is severely constrained by lack of funds to effectively perform its roles.
The SFDs manage the Forest resources at the state level. They also superintend over revenue generation from the Forestry Sector in the states. Like FDF, crippling financial resources have not allowed the SFDs to perform their functions. In addition, there is shortage of manpower, and most of the available personnel lack adequate training and exposure to modern Forestry techniques.
The roles of LGAs differ from North to South. In the south they have virtually no responsibility for managing the Forest resources, while the contrary is the case in the North. The LGAs are equally constrained by lack of funds and personnel to carry out their mandate.
Nigeria currently has less than 10% of her total land area under constituted Forest Reserves. Recent studies using Remote Sensing and GIS show that undisturbed forest covers only 12114 km2 representing about 1.3% of the Country’s total land area.
The yield from the forest estates has been projected to be 8273m3 in year 2000 and this figure is expected to decline with time.
The Country has eight National Parks that are well endowed with diverse flora and fauna resources, some of which are endemic to Nigeria. The Parks and Cross River, Gashaka-Gumti, Kamuku and Kainji Lake National Parks. Others are Okomu, Old Oyo and Yankari National Parks.
The Forests of Nigeria contribute substantially to the National GDP and sustenance of the livelihood of the people. The Forest also provides critical environmental and ecological services.
Forest management started in Nigeria as early as 1889 with the opening of the “ office of woods and forests “ in the then colony and protectorate of Lagos.
At the formative stage, due regard was given to standard forest management practices, thus bestowing a high degree of sanctity on the forestry sector. Forest reservation was virtually completed in the high forest areas by 1940. Tropical Shelterwood System was introduced but later abandoned while attempt at artificial regeneration through Taungya system started in 1926. The recent times have however, witnessed an absolute disregard for forest management. Forest reserve is thus not maintained while management plans are either non-existent or abandoned.
The country has made several attempts at putting in place programmes that would ensure the efficient management of her Forest resources. These include the establishment of Industrial Plantations from 1978, Land Use and Vegetation survey between 1975 and 1978, Production of perspective plan for the period 1990 - 2005 and formulation of a Nigerian Forest Action Program in 1997. However, most of these initiatives have had limited impact in turning around the precarious state of the Forest estates.
The NFAP, which is one of the most recent, has evolved through articulated planning and involvement of all stakeholders in the Forestry Sector. Unfortunately, the NFAP has not proceeded to the implementation phase.
The forestry Sector did not have a separate policy before the commencement of the National Forestry Action Programme. What obtained was an encapsulation of the National Forest Policy within an overall “Agricultural Policy for Nigeria” which was published in 1988 under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
The policy reform packaged in the NFAP has led to the setting up of two committees i.e. National Committee on Review of Forestry and /wildlife Legislation and the National Forest Policy Review Committee. The National Committee on Review of Forestry and Wildlife Legislation has finalised a bill to be forwarded for consideration by the National Assembly while the second committee has visited some Southern African countries and Malaysia to put in proper perspective their input to the new National Forestry Policy.
The NFAP has succeeded in changing the perception of policy makers and planners that Forestry does not contribute much to the economy. This was possible by the awareness created through their membership of NFAP committees.
The manpower disposition did not improve significantly during the NFAP process. Infact FDF recorded a shortage resulting from deaths, retirement and transfer to other departments.
The Forestry Sector lacks the capacity to carry out effectively its statutory responsibilities, a situation more prevalent with SFDs.
The country records deficit in all areas of her wood needs. The demand for Industrial wood far outstrips production except in the case of pulp and paper probably because the mills are not working. The situation with the fuelwwod and NTFPs portends serious danger to the country.
The states Forestry Department are not properly funded. Most of their allocations are devoted to payment of salaries and wages. The situation is similar with FDF, which has not been able to properly fund the Field Offices to discharge their normal duties. The Forestry Sector has benefited substantially from International Funding Agencies, which have financed laudable programmes ranging from plantation establishment to Landuse and Vegetation Survey.
The revenue generated by SFDs is not substantial. Factors responsible for this low revenue generation include inappropriate pricing of Forest products, undervaluation of Forests and collusion of Forestry Staff with forest exploiters to defraud government. However, the sector enjoys some leverage from the Forestry Trust Fund and Ecological Fund.
The NFAP has succeeded in reviving the Forestry Sector and has provided individual and group training to both the formal and informal Forestry sector. Each state also has in place Forest Action Plan, which serves as guide for their Forestry development initiative.
Another important success recorded was the institutionalisation of dialogue between the stakeholders in the Forestry Sector as a prelude to programme design. To a large extent, current thinking in Forestry Circle has moved to Bottom-up approach in Programme design.
Full accomplishment of the NFAP objectives has been hampered by political instability in the country and ineffective political support.
The programme equally suffered an appreciable level of set back resulting from late replacement of requisite personnel and disbursement of fund. Other limiting factors include non-release of counterpart fund and inability to convene a Round Table conference of Partners. This conference is expected to provide an avenue for both the local and international collaborators to fashion out the appropriate funding and implementation mechanism for the NFAP.