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FG blames charcoal dealers, state govts for deforestation

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The Federal Government on Thursday blamed powerful interests for the massive deforestation in states where lumberjacks fell trees for the commercial production of charcoal.

It said the activities of these interests were against the federal government’s target to plant 25 million trees by 2030 under the afforestation policy of the Buhari regime.

Minister of Environment, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi disclosed this to State House Correspondents during the 69th Session of the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

He revealed that efforts to contain the menace and save the environment had suffered resistance from states who argued that the trees were not under the purview of the federal government.

He said: “The activities of the people in the charcoal business, with all due respect, are being supported by a number of powerful people at the sub-national level.

“And if we try to do some level of enforcement, they will tell you, ‘we own this territory,’ you are federal government and you cannot enforce your rule and policy on us.

“The challenge we are facing under deforestation and charcoal is engaging Nigerian Governors Forum because of the Land Use Act”.

He explained that although the federal government would not wield control over state government lands, it was however, discussing with states to “work out a modality” such as the one being implemented by the Kaduna State government.

Referring to Kaduna State, the minister said, “It has invested some hectares of land to plant and we are working with the local governments. So, we are projecting other states will follow suit”.

He further said that the federal government had deployed a regulatory instrument to track forest areas with the most pressure.

“After tracking it, we raise red flags and then engage those communities and the state governments so that a solution can be brought to arrest of the continuous challenge to our forest.

“So, that is part of the challenge in terms of controlling these activities. But in spite of this, the task force is still there, going after some of them on ad-hoc basis, trying to find out who and who is involved, who licensed who. We are doing our best to curb the situation”, Abdulahi explained.

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