Taraba State has a large source of the wood popularly known as Rosewood, locally called “Kosso”. Investigations show that at the beginning, starting from late 2013, Chinese businessmen began sourcing for rosewood in many states across the country.
Their modus operandi is to commission an agent in a state, give him about N200,000 to source for the product directly from communities where there are forests.
The agent procures chainsaws and employs local youths in the communities who go to the forest and fell the trees. Others cut the trees into specific dimensions, another set of youths acts as loaders and the logs are loaded into trucks and transported to a depot where the agent collects the cargo.
The agent settles all costs including logging, cutting, loading and transportation to the depot and then arranges for the transportation to a location close to the ports in Lagos where the logs are prepared, loaded into containers and readied for export.
Such commercial interests have also been taken above environmental concerns in Taraba State where the illegal logging of rosewood and other species of timber has been legitimised by the government via the imposition of a levy on illegally logged timber.
Logging of timber was banned in the state by the Danbaba Suntai administration between 2007 and 2009 in order to control harvesting. But the government was only reinforcing existing laws that already banned the use of chainsaws for felling logs, in effect banning the harvesting of timber without a license.
The Taraba State (Control of Chainsaws) Law 2003 provides that “No person shall use any chainsaw for felling any tree in the state unless he shall first have applied and obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals in the State a License as prescribed in the Schedule of this Law.”
Apart from getting a license for felling logs, such a person also has to get a license to establish a sawmill for the industrial utilisation of the forestry resources.
Violators of this law are liable upon conviction to a fine of N50,000 or a jail term of five (5) years.
But illegal logging has continued in Taraba State so much that it is feared it will be the next state to suffer near total depletion of its rosewood resources.
The frenzy of illegal logging is unbelievable in several communities such as Gashaka, Karim Lamido, Takum, Wukari, Kurmi, Lau, Ibi amongst others.
Deforestation refers to the felling of trees on a massive scale without any simultaneous efforts aimed at replacing them often resulting in damage to the quality of the land.
Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area. Unfortunately large spans of land are lost every year and the world’s forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.
Forests are cut down for many reasons, but most of them are related to economic or social purposes mostly giving rise to illegal logging operations, which provide the world’s wood and paper products. Loggers cut countless trees each year and some of them acting illegally thereby creating more and more deforestation.
There has been devastating effects on the environment from felling of trees from loggers who destroy trees for planks and firewood.
Voices on the streets would like to know the answers to the following questions:
- What is the rescue team doing about the current felling of the trees in the State?
- Is the State Government generating revenue from the felling of the trees?
- Is there an Aforestation program going on?