A retired professor in the Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ibadan, Emmanuel Lucas, says forests have the potentials to rescue Nigeria from economic recession.
Lucas made the remark at the 39th annual conference of the Forestry Association of Nigeria (FAN) held in Ibadan with the theme “ Harnessing the Uniqueness of Forests for Sustainable Development in a Diversifying Economy.’’
He said if regulations were made that a well thought-out per cent of built –up lands be set aside for trees and flower production in urban areas, the favourable effects would impact on the economy.
“Forests are finitely renewable and can supply raw materials for industries; there is no construction material that comes near wood in low energy requirements for exploitation, processing and installation.
“While petroleum, cooking gas failed Nigeria, inflicted heavy environmental pollution on the country, forests can take over; it has little negative impact on the country’s environment,” he said.
The FAN foundation member said the functions of trees were so vital that tree planting must be encouraged..
He urged governments and estate bodies to continue to patronise private entrepreneurs engaged in seedling raising.
Also speaking, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state, represented by the Special Adviser on Agriculture, Prof. Adekunle Olatupo, said the theme was relevant, coming at a time when the country’s economy had declined due to reliance on oil.
Ajimobi noted that the development of non-timber forest produce would generate employment and boost the country’s GDP.
He said forests had been identified as factors that could mitigate climate change, urging the Federal Government and other stakeholders to partner in harnessing forest potentials.
Earlier, FAN National President, Prof. Labode Popoola, said forest resources were unique and interwoven with all other creatures of life.
He expressed dissatisfaction that the resources had been misused and called for a positive change.
“The city of Ibadan is everything to forestry in Nigeria as the FAN was founded in the city years ago,” Popoola said.
Also speaking, the National Organising Committee Chairman, Dr Ayoola Akinwole, said the association was addressing major issues germane to Africa.
“For our country to move forward there is need to diversify to other sources of revenue other than oil.
“We brought researchers and scientists from West Africa to discuss the theme.
“ The conference proceedings have over 109 papers; they are rich enough to address all the major issues,” Akinwole said.
The highlight of the event was the inauguration of the executive council of Oyo State chapter of FAN.