By Abigael Joshua
Stakeholders in Abuja on Wednesday expressed determination to discourage the felling of Shea Butter Trees to enhance sustainability of livelihoods within communities in the country.
They made the commitment at a workshop on the Conservation and Livelihood improvement on women through Shea Tree Value-Chain Development called (SHE(A) MATTERS .
Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, National Coordinator Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), said the programme was poised to preserve Shea Butter Trees for livelihood.
GEP-SGP is a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
She said that the GEF-SGP was always in support of any environmental initiative as it also emphasised livelihood, adding that it also supported community environmental initiatives.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Shea Integrated Global Foundation (SIGF) in collaboration with GEF-SGP and supervised by UNDP has successfully executed the (SHE(A) MATTERS project in Arikiya, Nasarawa State.
Olubamise said the project was poised to manage the environment knowing that the community was the first culprit and victims of environmental degradation and so the people had a part to play in the global effort.
“We support any environmental initiative as we also emphasise livelihood. You can’t tell communities to stop cutting trees when you don’t provide alternatives for them.
“Fortunately in all our years of work, we have discovered that they can still continue to harness the resources in a sustainable way so that their livelihood will continue and they will continue to benefit from their environment.
“There is a strong balance between environment and livelihood, and GEF is one of the greatest funders of environmental issues in the world,” Olubamise said.
Mrs Priscilla Nwosu, Co – Founder, SIGF, said the project was aimed at supporting livelihoods and commended the GEF-SGP funded UNDP programme for their support to carry out the project.
Nwosu, however, solicited for more funds to reach out to more communities in the country.
“We have been able to support over 200 homes in the community under the project, with cooking gases as means of alternatives,” she said.
On his part, Malam Ibrahim Arikiya, Madaki Arikiya, urged residents to desist from deforestation or be sanctioned with a fine of a goat, urging them to sustain the environment by preserving natural resources.
NAN reports that Arikiya became Nigeria’s first internationally certified organic parkland for collection of Shea in the wild.
The Shea Tree can live about three centuries bearing fruit for 200 years. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Razak Owolabi