A Brief on the Forestry Outlook Study
Dr Rex ARUOFOR
Federal Department of Forestry
P.M.B. 135, New Secretariat, Area 11, Garki, Abuja
Tel: 00234-9-234452; Fax: 00234-9-5232637
Forest reserves (The Federal vs. The States): The Forest Act (1937) gave each Governor or Local Government Authority, the authority to constitute its own forest reserves. De-reservation instead is frequent. The management and control of forest reserves is thus vested in the State Governments. The Federal Department of Forestry has only monitoring functions and holds no executive authority in the management of forest reserves and other forest lands. The overall control in the reserves is consequently not effective.
The forest estate of Nigeria has been very highly depleted. Illegal felling of logs remains a serious problem (insecurity of tenure of concessions). It was estimated that under the current exploitation trend, the natural forest could get completely depleted between 2004 and 2005 especially if the projected demand was to be satisfied.
Wildlife management: The main problems facing wildlife conservation in Nigeria include poaching, over exploitation, lack of accurate data, bush burning that destroys wildlife habitat. There is inadequate reliable database to facilitate forestry planning and development.
Weak Forest Policy and Implementation
Forest policy lacks legal backing and hence its enforcement is difficult. The Nigeria Forestry Act, 1937, is outdated. The Forestry Policy is subsumed in the National Agricultural Policy of 1988.
Forest tariffs are relatively low and are not revised frequently. Penalties under most laws are low and seldom enforced.
Proliferation of agencies and lack of intra/inter-sector coordination: Overlapping responsibilities of the Federal and State Government, Local Councils and the various multi-purpose parastatals for forest resources. There are also several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that contribute to the elaboration of the general land use plan and the sustainable management of forestry resources. Amongst some of the notable ones are Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), NEST, NRCC, etc.
Poor Funding of the Forestry Sector
Funding: Poor State and Federal funding of forestry programmes, including forest management and forestry research.
There is a critical shortage of raw material for the industry. Plantation wood will become more important as the large diameter trees become increasingly scarce. But the industry lacks the capacity to process small diameter logs from forest plantations.
Land use is un-coordinated. The Land Use Decree No. 6 of 1978 vests all land in each state of Nigeria in the Governor of the State. The impact is mixed and abuses have been reported.
Fuel wood and charcoal account for about 50% of the national primary energy consumption. The per capita consumption of fuel wood in the rural and the urban areas are estimated at 393 kg/annum 256 kg/per annum respectively. It is calculated that about 90% of the rural households in Southern Nigeria and up to 98% in the Northern Nigeria depend on fuel wood as their source of domestic energy. There are serious problems with electricity generation with a crippling effect on industrial production.
This is considered to be very critical and the main threat to the forest resource base.
Agriculture/forest interface: There have been encroachments on as well as excisions and outright de-reservations of the forest estate. The government’s policy of food security and poverty alleviation puts pressure on the forest resource base due to the increased quest for agricultural land that is implied. These problems are further compounded by natural disasters such as drought (especially in the north) and flooding, forest fires due to bush burning, extensive arable farming, over grazing of forestlands and water management.
Infrastructure development: It has been observed that the greatest impact of infrastructure development on deforestation in connection with the Construction sector followed by the Housing sector.
Economy is highly dependent on petroleum exports. It is also import dependent and the inflation rate is high. The continuous depreciation of the Naira presents grave problems for the economy.
The wealth of the country is mainly concentrated in the South-South while the North is relatively poverty-stricken but with a great potential for agriculture. Poverty at the rural levels is high and wages are low at the urban centres.
Population is large without the commensurate investment to absorb the teeming population into gainful employment. The pressure on the land in particular and the environment in general is consequently high as a result.
There has been long period of neglect of minority groups. Hence labour and social unrest have become serious issues. Unemployment rate is high. Corruption is a bane of economic development and progress. High crime rate and general insecurity to life, property and investment still poses grave problems. There is, however, high level of literacy.
Four scenarios were proposed. The first is a trend scenario while the other three are of the normative types. Their headings and characteristics of the scenarios are as follows:
Scenario 1 (Business as usual by 2020): This is an extrapolation of the present situation.
Scenario 2 (Social conflict resolution and poverty alleviation): This literally describes the current Situation with a listing of conditions to ensure welfare or "Conflict Resolution and poverty Alleviation".
Scenario 3 (Complete diversification of the economy by 2020): This is presented as a listing of the necessary events to encourage foreign and private sector investment in the economy including the divestiture of certain utilities. Deforestation is assumed to continue unabated. It appears that complete divestiture of the economy is not possible as the title of the scenario may imply. For instance increase investment in education/health and reduction in crime wave are advocated. It is not certain that the private sector can take over all of these.
Scenario 4 (Complete privatisation by 2020): This scenario appears to be a variation of scenario 3. The feasibility/plausibility of this scenario as the heading suggests is doubtful. Even if it could, one does not see the how in a situation of the indicated high inflation, labour unrest as well as weak technological and infrastructure bases.
Scenario 5 (Scenario 5: full fledged developed Nigerian economy by 2020): This is an utopian scenario that include the visions in scenarios 3 and 4. It is a combination of increased welfare delivery and economic development and improvements.
The general pattern in the construction of the scenarios in this country paper is that the general economy is given a high profile in the body of the scenario narrative. With the exception of scenario 5 where investment in natural resources development and management was indicated, the other four scenarios assumed a continuation of deforestation. The "strong/weak signals" part of the scenario was where issues related to forestry were dealt with.
It appears that the FP misunderstood the strong signals to mean the assessment of the implications of the scenarios. What a weak signal is was also not clear to him. As he puts it in the country report "it appears your strong/weak signals are proposal of what is required to minimise the effects or ensure the achievement of the envisaged scenario".
What is also missing in the development of the scenarios is a logical sequence of events between today and the advent of the vision that has been identified for the year 2020. Events have been indicated in the scenarios with respect to the achievement of the visions but the FP does neither state how these events could take place nor justify them. There is just as much need to explain why a trend may continue as there is to explain why one thinks that it may not.
In the conclusion of the report, the FP lists a number issues that may affect or upset the explanation of the alternative futures proposed. These include:
Level of potential investments;
Degree of planning and management of conflict applied to the overall economy;
Government policies that are still largely conflicting;
Research and development in natural resources.