Nigeria proposes first National Timber Certification Council to protect forest reserves

Illegal logging in Nigeria. In Nov 2017, an Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) report found over 1.4 million cbm of illegal rosewood logs, worth US$300 Mn, sailed past top Nigerian officials and were laundered into China. Image: EIA/ Mathias Rittgerott-Rettet den Regenwald. 


Stakeholders in Nigeria’s forestry sector have raised the urgency of a National Timber Certification Council to manage and certify the country’s dwindling forest resource.

The proposal, presented to the Nigerian Minister of Environment, details an all-rounded strategy that will create ecological balance, respect local livelihoods and promote economic value. Its ultimate aim is to establish a Nigerian Timber and Forest Products Certification Scheme (NTFPCS).

“Any viable timber certification scheme will need to be seen to be credible, objective with measurable criteria, reliable and independent and, most important, covering all types of timber,” the briefing underlined.

“Participation must be voluntary, non-discriminatory in nature and adaptable to local conditions, cost effective, practical and transparent.”

Organised by PEFC and BlackCamel Energy Ltd, a local hardwood trading company, Nigeria’s forestry sector gathered on January 20 to discuss Sustainable Forest Management in Nigeria through certification in Sagamu, Nigeria.

Nigeria’s forests are under severe threat from illegal logging and trading endangered wood species is rampant, Joseph Olajide, chairman of BlackCamel Energy Ltd, shared.

The meeting also committed itself to form a Forest Product Association of Nigeria (FPAN) with the aim of checking all activities of forest users and promoting Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) across the country. All FPAN members will actively engage in tree planting to be monitored by the Forestry Institute of Nigeria (FRIN).

In Nigeria, timber and forest products certification has not been applied on a wide enough basis to prove its practicality in application, its effect on the market or its contribution to good stewardship of the forest. The briefing also recognised that this issue “remains highly political in nature and will be a subject of active international and intergovernmental debate for some time before a solution is found.”

The country has lost much of its forest cover to widespread deforestation such that under 10 per cent of Nigeria’s land is now covered by forests, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Furthermore, only 20,000 hectares of the country’s primary forests are left. Between 2010 and 2015 the annual rate of deforestation was five per cent.