By Nyancho Nwa Nri and Fikayo Owoeye
ONDO STATE, Nigeria, – Deep in a forest in Nigeria’s Ebute Ipare village, Egbontoluwa Marigi sized up a tall mahogany tree, methodically cut it down with his axe and machete, and as it fell with a crackling sound, he surveyed the forest for the next tree.
Around him, the stumps dotting the swampy forest were a reminder of trees that once stood tall but are fast disappearing to illegal logging in Ondo state, southwest Nigeria
We could cut down over 15 trees in one location, but now if we manage to see two trees, it will look like a blessing to us,” the 61-year-old father of two said. (Photo essay: https://reut.rs/3zkLV8y)
From 2001 to 2021, Nigeria lost 1.14 million hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 11% decrease in tree cover since 2000 and equal to 587 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Global Forest Watch, a platform that provides data and monitors forests.
After felling the trees, Marigi put markers on them, a message to other loggers that he is the owner. The logs would be transported via creeks and rivers all the way to Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos.
“During the time of our forefathers, we had big trees but sadly what we have now are just small trees and we don’t even allow them to mature before we cut them,” Marigi said.
Cutting down trees for logging, opening up farmland or to feed energy demand for a growing population is putting pressure on Nigeria’s natural forest