Há que se deter os desmatadores e salvar as florestas da Nigéria!

Três lenhadores serram uma árvore recém-derrubada Três lenhadores serram uma árvore recém-derrubada. Local dos fatos é o estado de Cross River, na Nigéria. (© Devcon)

Nas últimas florestas tropicais da Nigéria - habitat de gorilas, chimpanzés, elefantes e árvores espetaculares - cresce a presença de desmatadores ilegais, graças a uma rodovia, que destroem essas matas. Organizações indígenas estão organizando a resistência, para o que elas precisam de apoio internacional.

Apelo

Para: Presidente Buhari; Ministro do Meio Ambiente, Abubakar; Ministro da Justiça, Malami, com cópia para o Governador Ayade

“Parem com as derrubadas ilegais e a destruição das florestas tropicais no estado de Cross River.”

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Uma nova onda de destruição abateu-se sobre a floresta tropical do estado de Cross River, o qual pertence às poucas regiões que ainda tem floresta na Nigéria.

A região em torno do município de Boki está “encharcada de pilhas de toras de madeira à espera do transporte””,  relata Odey Oyama, Diretor Executivo do Rainforest Resources and Development Centre. Mesmo muitos quilômetros adiante, nas profundezas da floresta tropical, ele já observou derrubadas sem qualquer freio. Oyama responsabiliza pela destruição um “cartel de desmatadores criminosos”.

No território dos indígenas Ekuri, o cacique Edwin Ogar reclama de uma “trucidação na pior das medidas”. A firma Sibawood estaria na iminência de derrubar 20.000 hectares de floresta tropical de alta biodiversidade. Para legitimar sua ação, ela invocaria uma inválida licença de 1989. Buldôzers já começaram a derrubar a floresta para dar lugar a uma rodovia que se servirá de transporte para a lenha.

O cacique Edwin Ogar acusa o governo de Cross River de ser cúmplice dos ataques às florestas. “Os direitos tradicionais dos Ekuri à floresta dos seus antepassados estão sendo punidos com desprezo”.

O governo nega  qualquer comportamento irregular e alega ser simplesmente fraco demais para deter os “bandidos da madeira”. Todavia, o Governador Ben Ayade, realmente, não é conhecido por se preocupar com florestas: Em 2016, ele tentou liberar para o desmatamento - por meio de um tal “Projeto Superhighway” - grande parte do Parque Nacional Cross River e da floresta da comunidade Ekuri. Somente uma oposição intensa foi capaz de impedir a realização dos planos.

Tendo em vista a existencial ameaça para a floresta, 24 caciques e o mais antigo ancião dos Ekuri - dentre eles Edwin Ogar e o Cacique Abel Egbe, escreveram uma carta inflamada ao Presidente da Nigéria, Muhammad Buhari – sem, contudo, obter a reação que esperava.

Por conta disso, os protetores da floresta tropical de Cross River estão contando com o auxílio internacional. Por favor, assine nossa petição.

Mais informações

Carta dos Ekuri ao Presidente da Nigéria de 4 de maio de 2021.

Ongoing Second Superhighway threatens Ekuri Community Forest: A Clarion Call to Halt Road Construction and Logging of Ekuri Forest.

Your Excellency Sir,

We write to you Sir on behalf of the indigenous people of Ekuri community found in Akamkpa Local Government Area in Cross River State of Nigeria, and owners of the 33,600ha Ekuri community forest, the largest and best communally managed forest in Nigeria. We have been applauded locally, nationally and internationally for demonstration of passion, commitments and efforts over the years in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity that meets our daily livelihoods and benefiting present and future generations.

We thank you Mr. President that when the threats from the superhighway project in 2016 threatened Ekuri community forest and our existence, you came to our rescue that the superhighway be detoured from Ekuri forest. This you did because of the richness and iconic status of this forest which also contributes in meeting Nigeria’s commitments to international environmental agreements.

We wish to inform you that the threats to Ekuri community forest are not over as another superhighway specifically aimed at logging Ekuri community forest has been approved by the government of Cross River State through the Cross-River State Forestry Commission (CRSFC).

  1. On January 18, 2021, Detailingcrossriver, an online media, published a news story in which the Chairman of CRSFC, High Chief Tony Undiandeye ‘’pledged supports towards the completion of Iyamitet-New Ekuri road’’ and revalidation of illegal forest lease agreement between Sibawood Industry and Agriculture Nig. Ltd and New Ekuri village who jointly with Old Ekuri owns the Ekuri community forest.
  2. It will be recalled that in 1989, Sibawood secretly and illegally entered into a fraudulent agreement with few persons from New Ekuri to log 20,000ha Ekuri community forest without free and prior informed consent of both Ekuri villages who jointly owns the Ekuri community forest.
  3. When this fraudulent agreement entered on December 2, 1989 before incorporation of Sibawood on December 18, 1989 became public in 2004, Ekuri community mounted a stiff opposition against the lease which culminated into legal battle initiated by Ekuri community who obtained interlocutory injunction in 1996 against Sibawood which still subsist.
  4. After the online publication, we responded to the Chairman of CRSFC and physically submitted a protest letter opposing the road project and the revalidation of an illegal forest lease agreement which has also been overtaken by the interlocutory injunction; the 1994 cancellation of all forest concession agreements and the 2008 ban on logging respectively by government of Cross River State.
  5. As stated in the online publication, High Chief Undiandeye ‘’maintained that with the lapse in time, and the moratorium now in place, granting of concession will no longer be feasible.’’ He further noted ‘’that as a Commission with the mandate of ensuring the protection of the forest resources against environmental consequences and given the strategic relevance of the forest, technical staff of the Commission will go to the field for re-evaluation in order to be well guided in re-validating the approval earlier granted.’’ ‘’The Chairman commended the resilience of the community (that is Ekuri) and also admonished the company against breaching any of the re-validation processes’’. 
  6. ‘’Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Timothy Akwaji reiterated that inventory carried out in 1995 cannot be put to use today because the scenarios are no longer the same. He lauded the community's (Ekuri) conservation effort which he noted, has gained admiration of the international Community, adding that there should be a balance between conservation and development.’’
  7. President Sir, it is sad to inform you that the government of Cross River State through the Forestry Commission headed by High Chief Tony Undiandeye, has completed the re-validation of the 20,000ha illegal lease of Ekuri forest to Sibawood Industry & Agriculture Nig. Ltd to log against extant injunction and other government policies which the Commission is supposed to enforce but rather has abused them.
  8. Consequently, Sibawood have deployed bulldozers and commenced the construction of Iyamitet – New Ekuri road and have begun marking hundreds of trees in Ekuri forest for logging, threatening livelihoods, ecosystem services and mitigation of climate which this forest has been contributing to the wellbeing of Ekuri, Nigeria and the world at large.
  9. The customary rights of Ekuri community to her ancestral forestlands has been treated with contempt and impunity by the government of Cross River State as our Free Prior and Informed Consent were not sought and obtained right from conception, re-evaluation, revalidation and the approval.
  10. Furthermore, since 2019 till date, there have been intensified logging in Ekuri community forest at Old Ekuri axis by loggers headed by Hon. Felix Ikimo who is currently a Special Assistant to the Chairman of Akamkpa Local Government Area. The logging which consist of timber and round logs is an eyesore, worrisome and catastrophic as our petitions to the Governor of Cross River State and the Forestry Commission have yielded no positive responses. Even our local efforts have failed, rather, logging is still continuing as business as usual. Hon. Ikimo publicly and severally boasts that he will log that axis of the Ekuri community forest into extinction after all, he has the backing of the government of Cross River State which we believe because despite all our efforts, he is still logging unceasingly.
  11. The UNDRIP’s Article 29 1. States: ‘’Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination’’. However, the Cross-River State government has done the opposite wittingly to extinguish us and Ekuri community forest from mother earth.
  12. This action of the government of Cross River State against us is a violation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) which Nigeria is a signatory.
  13. It is also a violation of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights that every member shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights, freedoms, recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without discrimination of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political, or any other opinion, national and social rights, fortune, birth or other status which Nigeria is founding member.
  14. Furthermore, it is a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guaranteed us the rights to life that we derived from our land, forest, resources and ecosystem services.
  15. President Sir, our humble prayer is to use your good office to stop this illegal revalidation of an illegal lease and end the current logging onslaught to destroy the famous Ekuri community forest which has promoted Nigeria’s image globally in terms of conservation, indigenous people’s involvement, livelihoods and climate change mitigation. Your intervention Sir, will save the rainforest of Ekuri community from being wipe away and posterity will applaud your exemplary commitments to better their lives,

Thank you, Mr. President Sir, and remain blessed.

Yours faithfully,

Carta

Para: Presidente Buhari; Ministro do Meio Ambiente, Abubakar; Ministro da Justiça, Malami, com cópia para o Governador Ayade

Exmo. Sr. Presidente Muhammad Buhari,
Exmo. Sr. Ministro do Meio-Ambiente Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar,
Exmo. Sr. Ministro da Justiça Abubakar Malami,

O estado federado Cross River alberga a metade das florestas tropicais remanescentes da Nigéria e ´é um dos hotspots globais de biodiversidade. Infelizmente, no momento, está grassando a derrubada ilegal, embora, aparentemente, o Governo de Cross River passe a impressão de querer acobertar os desmatadores. Isto tem conseqüências seríssimas para a biodiversidade.

Esta situação está levando a que a Nigéria falhe no cumprimento de sua promessa de combater a crise climática por meio da proteção de florestas.

As disseminadas e destrutivas derrubadas nas florestas dos Ekuri e outras comunidades (community forests) - em especial a derrubada de árvores frutíferas e medicinais para se ganhar madeira - leva ao empobrecimento da população indígena e à fome, bem como prejudica a saúde e o bem-estar desses povos.

Isto é uma contradição para com as três primeiras metas de desenvolvimento sustentável das Nações Unidas: 1. Nada de pobreza. 2. Nada de fome e 3. Saúde e bem-estar

Por isso, pedimos gentilmente a vocês o seguinte: Apóie

- a proteção das florestas tropicais de rica biodiversidade do estado de Cross River;
- a luta contra as derrubadas ilegais e a destruição do meio-ambiente;
- a exploração econômica das florestas pelas comunidades locais (community forestry);
- a regeneração de áreas destruídas, para o fim de recuperar a floresta.

Saudações cordiais

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