Tatort Nigeria - Wir müssen die Holzfäller stoppen

Drei Holzfäller zerlegen einen frisch gefällten Baum Drei Holzfäller zerlegen einen frisch gefällten Baum. Tatort ist der Cross River State in Nigeria (© Devcon)

In den letzten Regenwäldern Nigerias recken sich spektakuläre Bäume in den Himmel. Der Dschungel ist Lebensraum von Gorillas, Schimpansen und Elefanten. Doch grassierender, illegaler Holzeinschlag und eine Holzfällerstraße zerstören diese Wälder. Indigene organisieren den Widerstand und brauchen internationale Unterstützung.

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An: Präsident Buhari, Umweltminister Abubakar, Justizminister Malami, in cc an Governor Ayade

„Stoppen Sie den illegalen Holzeinschlag und die Zerstörung der Regenwälder im Cross River State.“

Ganzes Anschreiben lesen

Eine neue Welle der Zerstörung schlägt üben dem Regenwald im Cross River State zusammen, der zu den wenigen verbliebenen Wäldern in Nigeria gehört.

Die Region um den Ort Boki ist „überschwemmt von Holzstapeln, die auf den Abtransport warten”, berichtet Odey Oyama, Executive Director des Rainforest Resources and Development Centre. Selbst mehrere Kilometer tief im Urwald hat er „hemmungslosen Holzeinschlag” beobachtet. Oyama macht für die Zerstörung ein „Kartell krimineller Holzfäller“ verantwortlich.

Im Territorium der indigenen Ekuri beklagt Chief Edwin Ogar ein „Abschlachten im schlimmsten Ausmaß”. Die Firma Sibawood sei dabei, 20.000 Hektar artenreichsten Regenwald zu roden, und berufe sich auf eine längst ungültige Lizenz aus dem Jahr 1989. Bulldozer haben bereits angefangen, Wald für eine Holzfällerstraße frei zu räumen.

Chief Edwin Ogar wirft der Regierung von Cross River vor, Komplize des Angriffs auf die Wälder zu sein. „Die traditionellen Rechte der Ekuri auf den Wald ihrer Ahnen wurden mit Verachtung gestraft.”

Die Regierung leugnet jedes Fehlverhalten und behauptet, schlicht zu schwach zu sein, die „Holz-Banditen” zu stoppen. Allerdings steht Governor Ben Ayade im Ruf, sich nicht um den Wald zu sorgen: 2016 hat er versucht, durch ein „Superhighway”-Projekt große Teile des Cross River Nationalparks und des Gemeindewalds der Ekuri für den Holzeinschlag zu öffnen. Nur heftiger Widerstand verhinderte die Pläne.

Angesichts der existentiellen Bedrohung für den Wald haben 24 Chiefs und Älteste der Ekuri, unter ihnen Edwin Ogar und Chief Abel Egbe, einen Brandbrief an Nigerias Präsident Muhammad Buhari geschrieben – ohne die erhoffte Reaktion.

Die Regenwaldschützer vom Cross River setzen daher auf internationale Unterstützung. Bitte unterschreiben Sie unsere Petition.

Hinter­gründe

Brief der Ekuri an Nigerias Präsident Buhari vom 4. Mai 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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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,

An­schreiben

An: Präsident Buhari, Umweltminister Abubakar, Justizminister Malami, in cc an Governor Ayade

Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident Muhammad Buhari,
sehr geehrter Herr Umweltminister Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar,
sehr geehrter Herr Justizminister Abubakar Malami,

der Bundesstaat Cross River beherbergt die Hälfte von Nigerias verbliebenen Regenwäldern und ist einer der globalen Hotspots der Biodiversität. Leider grassiert derzeit illegaler Holzeinschlag, wobei die Regierung von Cross River die Holzfäller zu decken scheint. Das hat schwerwiegende Folgen für die Biodiversität.

Diese Situation führt dazu, dass Nigeria seine Versprechen verfehlt, die Klimakrise durch den Schutz der Wälder zu bekämpfen.

Der verbreitete und zerstörerische Holzeinschlag in den Wäldern der Ekuri und anderer Gemeinschaften (community forests) – insbesondere das Fällen von Obst- und Medizinalbäumen wegen der Holzgewinnung – führt zur Verarmung der indigenen Bevölkerung, zu Hunger und beeinträchtigt ihre Gesundheit und ihr Wohlergehen.

Das steht im Widerspruch zu den ersten drei Zielen für nachhaltige Entwicklung der Vereinten Nationen: 1. Keine Armut, 2. Kein Hunger und 3. Gesundheit und Wohlergehen

Wir bitten Sie daher höflich: Unterstützen Sie

- den Schutz der artenreichen Regenwälder in Cross River State.
- den Kampf gegen illegalen Holzeinschlag und Umweltzerstörung.
- die gemeinschaftliche Waldbewirtschaftung (community forestry).
- die Regenerierung zerstörter Flächen, um den Wald wiederherzustellen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

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