Obaseki urges collective action on forest preservation, seeks community buy-in  


    … says bill for Forestry Commission presented to Edo Assembly

    The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that his administration is committed to partnering relevant stakeholders to curb deforestation, calling on communities to desist from converting land marked as forest reserve for private use.

    The governor said this at the Stakeholder Workshop on Sustainable palm oil development in Edo State by Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 Africa Palm Oil Initiative (TFA2020 APOI) in Benin City, noting that a bill for the establishment of a Forestry Commission, has been sent to the State House of Assembly for legislation, as part of effort to stem the depletion of the state’s forest reserves.

    He said, “We must do something about our forest to reclaim and preserve it from total depletion.”

    He explained that on assuming office as governor, he was worried over the spate of illegal logging that occurred between the late 1990s and early 2000s, noting, “We inherited a very robust forestry sector from our colonial masters, but over the years, mismanagement has led to its depletion.”

    Obaseki expressed optimism that at the end of the workshop, participants would proffer lasting solutions to issues relating to idle lands, indiscriminate transfer of reserved areas to private individuals, land management and use.

    “What do we do about host communities where we have forest reserves and they engage in sales of forest assets, thereby resulting in deforestation?” He questioned.

    He tasked participants to brainstorm on better ways of policing forest assets and called for capacity building for students of tertiary institutions to protect forest assets.

    Obaseki identified oil palm as a veritable agro-product, which when fully utilised, will turn the economic fortune of the state around.

    The Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Food Security programme, Prince Joe Okogie, urged participants at the workshop to utilise the opportunity and come up with workable solutions for addressing the challenges of deforestation.

    The representative of Proforest, Abraham Baffoe, noted that Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 is a Private Public Partnership (PPP) that brings together government, the private sector and civil society organisations to eliminate deforestation from the supply chain in the production of palm oil, beef, soy, pulp and paper. He added that the participants were gathered to deliberate on tackling the challenges of deforestation, which is a global trend.

    Baffoe said as a global challenge, deforestation relates to agricultural plantation development, subsistence farming, bushfire/wild fire, charcoal production, illegal and unsustainable logging and population and development pressure.

    Speaking on the topic: “Sustainable, Responsible, Palm Oil Production by Nigerian Oil Palm Stakeholders,” the Managing Director of Okomu Oil Plc, Graham Hefer, charged stakeholders to be committed in ensuring that the objectives of TFA are realised.

    He identified areas where stakeholders need to demonstrate more commitment to include: transparency, long term economic and financial viability, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, responsible consideration of employees and local communities, responsible development of new plantations and commitment to continuous improvement.