During the 2011 International Year of Forests, shocking statistics were brought to light by experts around the globe. World deforestation averaged 14.5 million hectares per year between 1990 and 2005, which is nearly 10 hectares of forest per minute over the 15-year period. The cause of such extent of deforestation was chiefly attributed to the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land. More so, loss of forests has been reported as one of the leading causes of Climate Change and Species Extinction.
Reports from the Global Forest Resource Assessment of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) show that Nigeria has the highest deforestation rate of primary forest in the world and there are indications that the country may lose virtually all of its primary forest within a few years. Real quagmires exist – Nigeria is Africa’s most populous Nation and more so its southern region where natural forest ecosystem occurs is an area of one of the highest human population densities in tropical Africa. Coupled with this, the country grapples with 21% unemployment rate (2011 est.) and according to the Human Development Index (HDI), the agriculture industry in Nigeria employs about 70% of total labour force while cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is the second most exported product after crude oil. This reality is compounded further by an estimated 70% of the people living below poverty line. It begs the question, how can conservation and sustainable development be achieved in such a scenario?!
The solution is certainly not straight-forward and in this complex web of draws and drawbacks, our project attempts to provide effective locally-driven solutions that combine global resourcefulness with indigenous novelty in planning, research, advocacy and implementation.