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Nigeria To Earn N650bn From Wood Export Ban - NEW TELEGRAPH

APRIL 15, 2024

Six years after the ban on illegal timber export, Nigerian wood processing sector has picked up with the creation of five million jobs in the value chain and is expected to earn more than N650 billion ($500 million). Before the ban, more than 14,000 containers laden with wood were smuggled by Chinese through Nigerian ports annually.

The decision to ban illegal timber export from the country was taken by the CITES governing body on November 1, 2018 at a meeting in Sochi, Russia. It was learnt that Nigeria had been losing $500 million worth of rosewood logs to smugglers before the government’s prohibition.

According to Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), about 40 containers filled with kosso timber were passing through the seaports daily to China and Vietnam from Nigeria, indicating that 14, 600 containers lading with wood are smuggled out of the country annually.

Findings from International Trade Statistics (ITS) also revealed that Nigeria had lost $288 million between 2017 and 2019 to two Chinese ports, Guangzhou and Shanghai through smuggling of the banned rosewood. It was revealed that the illegal export of the wood increased by 42.8per cent from $61.73 million to $107 million between 2018 and 2019 and also rose by 6.97 per cent from $57.41million to $61.73million between 2017 and 2018.

However, the Wood Exporters Association of Nigeria (TWEAN) said that since the ban on wood export from Nigeria was lifted last year by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES), the Nigerian wood industry has become highly regulated and is witnessing increased economic activities.

The General Secretary of the association, Joe Odiase, said that since the ban was lifted last year, coupled with government’s pro-activeness to grow the sector, more furniture manufacturing companies are coming into the wood industry. Odiase noted: “The sector currently engages about five million Nigerians in the value chain of the wood processing industry adding that more could still be done if the policies guiding the sector are fully implemented.”

Also, he explained that the Minister of Environment had met with several stakeholders in the wood industry to ensure every stakeholder is carried along in the process of growing the industry. According to him, “you cannot export without specifications from the ministry; you cannot export without contributing to the afforestation programme of government, which is also contained in the policy guidelines on wood export.”

Odiase stressed that with the current policy guidelines, the industry would boom in no time and contribute more significantly to national economic growth. It would be recalled that as rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus), locally known as Kosso, is fast depleting the country’s natural forestry resources due to an unprecedented level of illegal logging of wood that began to accelerate since 2013, Chinese Customs records revealed that Nigerian rosewood export to China was 247,200m3 in 2014.

By the end of 2015, it said that the Nigeria had become the single largest exporter of the logs to China, accounting for 45 per cent of total imports to the country. Also, it revealed that since 2015, no fewer than 30 containers of 20 feet of rosewood were leaving Nigerian ports for China daily. The Chinese Customs noted in 2014, the country had exported 18 folds of what it imported in 2013.

Also a report by CITES explained that it was one of the largest forest crimes in recent history, noting that the hunt for precious rosewood had depleted the country’s forests; accelerated desertification in rural areas and contributed to a staggering deforestation rate of four per cent annually in Nigeria, the fourth highest in the world.

The EIA report explained Nigeria has been exporting approximately 40 containers a day filled with kosso timber to China and Vietnam. EIA estimates that more than four million trees, worth roughly $500 million a year, were cut down in Nigeria from January 2017 to March 2018 in what is thought to be the largest violation of the Convention in history. Following the ban on Nigerian illegal timber trade, all countries in the world are instructed to stop the illegal wood at their borders.

China is the world’s largest importer of illegal timber. The EIA’s Director of Forest Campaigns, Lisa Handy said: “This international ban is a pivotal step towards reforming the global timber trade and its significance reaches well beyond CITES. “While Nigeria needs to urgently reform its forest sector, we must also focus on its trading partners who have accepted the equivalent of millions of stolen trees.

As long as there are markets willing to turn a blind eye in this way, forest crimes will continue. China and Vietnam urgently need to prohibit the entry of illegal timber into their countries.” The EIA reports alleged that it found evidence linking former Environment Minister, Amina J. Mohammed, who signed close to 3,000 export permits, which allowed traffickers to launder an estimated $300 million worth of rosewood logs. Mohammed is now Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. The documents were reportedly signed just days before she left office for the United Nations.


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