Kwara State Government has announced a month closure of the forest for all activities except farming, expressing worries that indiscriminate activities in the forest are fast disrupting the state ecosystem and exposing it to severe effects of climate change.
“The state government is very worried about the rate of wanton deforestation for both legal and illegal purposes such as charcoal and other wood resources/products without commensurate regeneration,” Commissioner for Environment, Aliyu Saifudeen, told journalists in Ilorin, the state capital, yesterday.
He added: “This is causing a tremendous imbalance in our ecosystem and climate change. Accordingly, the ministry has taken a painful decision to ‘close the forest’ for all kinds of activities for a minimum period of one month and maximum of three beginning from the March 2 to May 31, 2020. This will enable us to take stock of what is left of the natural endowment for further action and inventory of what goes on therein. Consequently, all economic activities except farming are hereby suspended within the period forthwith with offenders liable to prosecution.
“During and at the end of the closure, all those who have any business to do with the forest are required to make themselves available to the ministry for fresh registration, including farmers whose farmlands are in excess of 25 hectares.”
Saifudeen said the state government would embark on a massive tree planting to be flagged off by the state Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, and the Minister of Environment, Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, later in May this year, a step he asserted was needed to address the question of deforestation and climate change.
According to him, “There is a policy of cut one tree and plant five, and for new sites being developed, a number of trees must be planted. This has not been complied with totally. A strict adherence to this policy would salvage our predicament of deforestation,” saying the policy would be replicated at every local government area of the state.
Saifudeen, who announced the ongoing sensitisation of the populace on the need to sanitise the state, said the government would also embark on the enforcement of the law banning obstruction of traffic flow through indiscriminate trading on roadsides and median as well as street begging.
He lamented that such practices constitute serious threats to millions of law-abiding people in the state.