Private Sector Participation In Forestry In Nigeria: Constraints And Challenges
The global proportion of tree planting tree cutting is approximately one to ten. The era of inexhaustible forest resources appears to have gone forever. Therefore, an aggressive intervention through private sector participation in forestry, to complement government efforts remains the most viable option. For active participation of the private sector, the need for the provision of an enabling environment, the political will, support and other needed incentives are very essential. This paper reviews the current status of private sector participation in forestry, the perceived benefits, constraints, challenges and the impetus to motivate investors in active forest establishment. No doubt the present level of private sector participation is low and is due to a number of factors that revolve around uncoordinated institutional frame-works, inhibitory forestry laws, policies and regulations, long gestation period between the period of investment and returns along with the low investment climate. These problems stare investors in the face and do not encourage direct involvement in tree plantings and other aspects of forest resources development including forest estates, wildlife sanctuary and eco-tourism. Attempts were made here to proffer solutions to some of these problems, ranging from more government participation in providing an enabling environment for the people in form of subsidies on land acquisition and purchase, farm inputs, access to soft loans with reasonable moratorium period on investment, appropriate benefit sharing arrangements, along side improved subsidised seedlings enjoying guaranteed market (domestic and export) as exist for food crops. Capacity building requires strengthening, in form of training of more extension agents, technical support, research personnel development and improvement programmes for fast growing timber and food tree species. Issues of forest and land laws and regulations need re-visiting, free hands to plant desired tree species must be available, while the private sector and the immediate communities should be adequately motivated to invest in the drier parts of the country with limited trees in view of the perceived short and long term benefits.
Keywords: Private sector, investment, and forestry
JOAFSS Vol. 4 (1) 2006: pp. 135-142