ENVIRONMENTAL rights advocacy group in Cross River State, has raised an alarm on the plight of some 8,000 hectares rainforest in the state.
Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC) which is concerned with the preservation and conservation of the ecological integrity of the Tropical Rainforests in Nigeria, raised the alarm in a letter to Governor Liyel Imoke, that was made available to AkanimoReports on Sunday.
Executive Director of the group, Mr. Odey Oyama, said their concern is also for the improvement of the livelihoods of indigenous communities that live in and around the Tropical Rainforests.
They claimed in the letter to the governor that a company known as SOUTHGATE COCOA PRODUCE LTD was currently working on the prospects of destroying about 7,241.160 hectares of intact pristine forests in Etara and Ekuri-Eyeyeng community forest estates in the state for the purpose of setting up cocoa plantations.
''We wish to implore Your Excellency to do everything to stand up against this ecologically retrogressive project for the following reasons:
* In terms of monetary returns to government and the indigenous peoples, the tropical rainforest estates have more values than any cocoa plantation.
* The project is a grand deception because it is directed by the intent of the group to lay hold on high quality forest estates for the selfish reason of converting the rich forestland into an enterprise that will only profit them and their cohorts.
* In front of the international community, the Cocoa project will present the Cross River State Government as a party that is not consistent in its approach to the REDD programme.
* Similarly also, the Cocoa project will present the Government of Cross River State as a party that is not acting consistently with the global objectives of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC (of the UN) towards the mitigation of Climate Change in the world, through the preservation of tropical rainforest ecosystems.
5) Importantly, the project runs at cross purposes with the commitments made by World leaders and organizations in South Africa 2002 towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It contradicts several of the European Commission co-operation guidelines with Nigeria. It also contravenes several related municipal laws and legislations, as well as International conventions and treaties which Nigeria is a signatory. The interpretation of these positions is that we could very easily be running the risk of losing international support by reason of the activities conducted by a selfish company in our territory.
Finally, permitting the destruction of Tropical Rainforests for the purpose of setting up Cocoa plantations (of doubtful ecological and economic advantages to the State and its peoples) would very greatly dent the image of Cross River State as a government that is interested in taking the front row in the promotion of ecotourism developments in West Africa.
We implore Your Excellency to act very promptly on this matter and continue to promote the position of Cross River State of Nigeria as the custodian of West Africa’s last meaningful pristine Tropical Rainforest estate''. ENDS