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The African Research Association Managing Development in Nigeria (ARADIN) has been conducting ethnobotanical and socio-economic research, community forestry and environmental restoration using participatory research and community-driven development approach. ARADIN is currently working with over 19 communities in four Local Government Areas in northern, central and southern Cross River State in Nigeria.
Life on Land
There are serious environmental challenges that have led to substantial loss of biodiversity in Nigeria. Despite the fact that crude oil accounts for about 90% of Nigeria’s exports and more than 80% of government revenue, poverty in Nigeria has led to a near total dependence of over 90% of the rural population on forests. Currently, the deforestation rate in Nigeria is about 3.5% per year, translating to a loss of 350,000-400,000 hectares of forest land per year. Research shows the remainder forests occupy about 10 million hectares (2010). This is below the Food and Agriculture Organisation recommended national minimum and constitutes about 10% of Nigeria’s forest land area.
The reasons for Nigeria’s biodiversity degradation are various and include poor implementation and enforcement of forest legislation, unsustainable/illegal logging, bush burning, cattle grazing and infrastructural development activities. These factors have collectively supported loss of biodiversity and forest degradation.
In order to address Nigeria’s biodiversity degradation, ARADIN implemented a community-based forest management project, using a participatory and community-driven development approach to strengthen the community’s capacity to manage natural resources.
The project has as its aim to institutionalize a community-based forest monitoring programme and educate communities on sustainable forest management. In particular, ARADIN conducted preliminary visits to support the planning phase of the project. These preliminary visits included interactions with community leaders, and thereafter discussions during town hall meetings. Once feedback was gathered from the community on their interests and needs, the project was implemented. This participatory approach elicited ownership, which played a crucial role in the project’s success that guarantees sustainability. This approach also facilitated the mainstreaming of forest policy in project implementation with a view to share knowledge on community rights, access to land and land tenure system.
The community-level forest monitoring committee (CFMC) was established to monitor and report illegal logging activities. The CFMC also provides support in registering the monitoring activities to the Cross River State Forestry Commission (CRSFC), which was set up to track deforestation and forest degradation activities. These monitoring activities will feed into the UN REDD+ process, which is designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as promote sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.
Through this initiative, 1,200 tree seedlings were replanted on sites covering an area of 1.5hectares. In addition, 3 conservation clubs were established and climate change ambassadors received training. In addition, 74 females and 78males were trained on climate change issues across five communities. In addition, ARADIN organized 2 street rallies and an advocacy campaign to raise awareness on deforestation and forest degradation issues. Lastly, is the integration of the Forest Management Committee and Disaster Risk Reduction Committee into the Community Forest Monitoring Committee (CFMC); there is evidence that the community-based forest monitoring activities influenced policy at the community level.
African Research Association Managing Development in Nigeria (ARADIN)