By Nkechi Isaac, Abuja
Deforestation is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Nigeria: it is responsible for 40 percent of national CO2 emissions (SNC, 2014).
According to the second national communication to the UNFCCC, baseline scenario emissions from deforestation will increase from 9.5 MtCO2e/year in 1990 to 26.5 MtCO2e/year in 2030 (based on a conservative deforestation rate of only 2.6 percent).
The National Forest Conservation Council of Nigeria (NFCCN) estimates that a large portion of the forests in Nigeria will be cleared within a few decades if current rates of deforestation are not reduced. All these lead to climate change that will impact on sectors that are strategic for the growth of the economy, such as agriculture, livestock, and water resource management. Increasing temperature, coupled with changes in precipitation patterns and hydrological regimes, will only exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.
In a paper on sustainable fuelwood management in Nigeria which he presented at the opening ceremony of the inception workshop of the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) on climate change mitigation project in Nigeria recently in Calabar, Cross River State, the representative of the project’s executing agency, the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Engr. Okon Ekpenyong, who is the director, linkages and consultancy at the commission, said Nigeria has the third highest rate of deforestation in the world: 3.7 per cent or 410,000 hectares of forests annually, with some areas in the South losing over 1,000 hectares/year. He disclosed that the country lost over 50 percent of its forest resources between 1990 and 2010 when its forest area shrank from 17 million hectares down to 9 million hectares.
He stressed that if the current trend continued unabated, Nigeria’s scarce forests would be lost within a few decades.
Ekpeyong noted that the challenge for Nigeria was to pursue economic development and realize national aspirations and goals (e.g, Vision 20:2020, Transformation and Change Agenda) without creating additional burdens on natural resources, thereby preserving ecosystems that are critical to maintaining the quality of life and providing environmental services to society.
Giving the project’s background, he said Cross River, Delta and Kaduna states were selected as the geographic focus of the proposed project because they are at the forefront of the climate change, forest and land conservation agenda in the country.
He said: “CRS has formulated its low-carbon vision for the state. Within 10 years, Cross River State will have 1 million hectares of forest land managed for climate change friendly activities that will include carbon, non-timber forest products, sustainable tree crops and ecotourism. The aim is to create a new low carbon economy for the state based on the sustainable management of its forests.
“UN-REDD+ selected CRS as a pilot to demonstrate its REDD+ readiness model; UN-REDD+ has targeted Delta State as the next state to replicate the success in Cross River and the chosen communities have already been sensitized on the REDD+ programme and its benefits.
“Unlike the frontline desertification state, the Great Green Wall program has also targeted Kaduna as a buffer state to prevent future desertification. All of these programmes provide a sound baseline to superimpose additional GEF support for sustainable fuelwood management and clean energy access.”
Listing its objectives, he said the project which will cost a total sum of $20,810,000, from a cross section of partners and stakeholders both in cash and kind, aimed to ensure the sustainable fuel wood production and consumption for multiple environmental benefits, including carbon storage and sequestration, while ensuring that basic human development needs are met without compromising ecosystem ability to provide global environmental services.
It is also aimed, he added, at reducing GHG emissions from the use of fuelwood in the domestic, institutional and industrial sectors of Nigeria through integrated and sustainable fuelwood production and utilization, and promotion of sustainable biomass energy technologies in Nigeria using output based and market based approaches.
He said the project was designed to comprehensively address one of the major causes of deforestation in Cross River and Delta states and land degradation and desertification in Kaduna State specifically and the unsustainable use of non-renewable fuel wood in rural and peri-urban areas, adding it was designed to balance the supply and demand for fuelwood through a bottom-up approach of leveraging private sector resources and provide inclusive financial incentives (start-up loans, matching rebate schemes) and market mechanisms for sustained market supply and demand for energy efficient stoves/kilns and certified fuelwood.
Speaking on the possibility of scaling up the project, the director said there was a huge potential for scaling up SFM and efficient cook stove solutions in Cross River, Delta and Kaduna states, let alone Nigeria and adjacent countries. With 0.1 percent penetration rate for efficient cookstoves and 50 million people predominantly relying on biomass for cooking, the three states have great market potential for increased cook stove sales and scaling-up of the project-supported model for sustainable fuel-wood management.
Also speaking on the occasion, the UNDP country director, Mandisa Mashologu, said the workshop was a corporate requirement by GEF before the kick-off of any project it is supporting and the participants comprising stakeholders and actors in the climate change sector were invited to review and revalidate the project document which they participated in the initial development.
Madshologu represented by the team leader, environment and sustainable development, UNDP, Mr Muyiwa Odele, tasked the participants to find out if there were new opportunities that might have not been there during the project design that could be adopted to help deliver on the goals and objectives of the project.
Earlier, in his good will remarks, a representative of the Delta State government, Dr Egwunatum Anselm, an assistant director of environmental conservation department of the Delta State Ministry of Environment, noted that Green House Gas (GHG) is a major problem and challenge across the globe, adding the factors militating against climate change in Nigeria spans from the nation’s inability to factor critical development plans into its policies.
He thanked the UNDP-GEF for selecting Delta State as one of the states in the pilot phase of the project, saying the implementation of the sustainable fuelwood management (SFM) project which would involve key public, private and CSO stakeholders from the forestry, agriculture and energy sectors in the state would see the drastic reduction of GHG emission in the state.