The Nigerian government and the Ogun state government have flagged off 50 hectares of tree planting programme to effectively address deforestation and the abuse of forest reserves in the state as a result illegal tree felling and land clearing for agricultural purposes.
At a ceremony held at Olokemeji Forest Reserve in the state, the Minister of Environment, represented by a director in the ministry, Mr Philip Bankole, said that the federal government was ready to take drastic measures and make policies to control the wanton destruction of forest reserves across the country.
He enlisted the support and understanding of state governments, community leaders, and members of the Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria to be at the vanguard of protecting the forests from further degradation.
“We must fashion out appropriate strategies and policies for sustainable forest management in our country with the entire citizenry adapting to responsible behaviour.
“It is not only the loggers that destroy our forests, even the hunter that puts fire into the forest.
“So, the federal government will continue to provide the necessary policy guidelines, facilitate dialogue with relevant stakeholders and provide the needed enabling environment for stakeholders to participate in afforestation and sustainable forest management in our country,” he said.
The Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry, Kolawole Lawal, said: “Today we are witnessing the flag-off of 50 hectares of tree planting in our state.
“This development is highly instructive as the administration is taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and all hands must be on deck to support this initiative.”
The National Chairman of the Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria said that despite the rich varieties of Nigeria’s forest and wildlife, this source of national pride is being threatened by deforestation.
“Massive reforestation is the answer, the earlier we find alternative to fuel wood, the better. Obviously, government alone cannot do it, just like the education trust fund, government should create a trust fund to be funded with tax and levies on all forest products,” he said.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nigeria is losing about 350,000 to 400,000 annually representing 55.7% of its forest reserves to wanton, illegal and uncontrolled tree felling.
The effects remain visible as this has brought untoward stress on the environment which has manifested in massive gully erosion and imbalance in the ecosystem.