The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Bayelsa State Governor on Tourism, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo says community based forest management could serve as an antidote to ongoing reckless use of the remains of natural resources, just as he called for implementation of relevant laws relating to environmental conservation and preservation in Bayelsa State.
Mr Kiyaramo, who stated this when he received stakeholders from the newly approved Edumanon National Park-adjacent communities in his office in Yenagoa, maintained that forests are critical in providing a wide range of environmental services, including biodiversity conservation, climate regulation, watershed protection and soil amelioration.
He commended the state governor, Senator Douye Diri for his plans to propose a fresh bill to the State House of Assembly to repeal obsolete environmental laws in the state, saying that the prosperity administration was determined to protect all species within the state’s forest reserves through a well articulated legal framework.
The SSA noted that community-based forestry practice, which according to him, is a participatory approach to forest management, strengthens communities’ capacity to build vibrant local economies, while protecting and enhancing their local forest ecosystems.
The governor’s aide lamented that despite the importance of forests in people’s lives and livelihoods, deforestation and forest degradation activities have rather increased at a higher rate than ever, informing that approximately 30% of the world’s land surface has been vital for meeting human needs for food, fuelwood, timber, fodder and medicines.
He pointed out that one of the major reasons for the failure of most forestry programmes in tropical developing countries has been the exclusion of local people in forest management and poor recognition of local peoples’ customary rights and dependency on forests.
According to him, community-based forest management, known as community forestry, social forestry, joint forest management or participatory forestry, was introduced in response to the concern that centralised forest ownership in most developing countries have failed to promote sustainable forest management.
Mr. Kiyaramo stated that social, economic and environmental well-being were the core of sustainable forest management principles, noting that despite the significant progress made towards achieving sustainable forest management over the past decades, its implementation has been highly variable in the tropics where the capacity to utilise or enforce sustainable forest management policies, laws and regulations remains unequal.
He enjoined the representatives of the Edumanon national park-adjacent communities to recognize protected area as an important resource-base that could improve their livelihoods as well as bring development to their communities with time.
Mr Kiyaramo called for proper education and sensitization of stakeholders of park-adjacent communities on the significance of non-market ecosystem services which could help them to better appreciate the importance of such protected areas such as forest reserves or national parks in their area.
Speaking during the visit, His Royal Highness, Douglas Onungu, from Ogbema (Fikoruama) Nembe, thanked the Senior Special Assistant for his efforts to create awareness on the importance of the national park and pledged to cooperate with the federal and state government to ensure that the wildlife in the area was adequately protected.
Chief Oweikigha Collins Adigha from Obiama Community, Chief Ginah Jones Osun, from Agrisaba and Chief Ifiemi Godfrey Isele, all assured the the governor’s aide of their readiness to work with the state government to ensure that the National Park comes on stream without any hitch.