Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called for concerted efforts to protect forests and green areas in urban and reserved areas, even as the state government is pushing for initiatives to create greener cities and harness the state’s rich and diverse forest assets.
The governor said this in commemoration of the International Day of Forests 2018 marked by the United Nations and other partner agencies on March 21 every year.
The governor, who stressed the need for collaboration between government and civil society groups in preserving environmental diversity, said that the Edo State’s plan to set up a forestry commission and an agency for parks and gardens are all geared towards protecting her diverse forest assets.
According to him, “Edo State has rich forest assets that require nurturing. Much as some parks are within the purvey of the Federal Government, we are also looking at exploiting the rich forest assets we have to drive tourism, aside the overarching objective of conserving and preserving the environment.
“We are in talks with investors to help harness our forest reserve and ensure that we halt deforestation in the state.”
He noted that measures taken to safeguard the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park in the city centre and prevent its deforestation were pointers to some of the initiatives to be taken to preserve such assets in the state.
He said this year’s theme: “Forest and Sustainable Cities” is not just apt but captures his administration’s reserve to ensure that the state safeguards its flora and fauna.
He said, “The case for greener cities cannot be over-emphasised as it is evidently the way to go in a world bedevilled with deforestation and the perils of climate change. This is why we want to ensure that the state exploits its forest assets for tourism receipts.
He urged federal agencies charged with enforcing policies and laws on conservation and preservation to be alive to their responsibilities, as the state was ready to support them in fulfilling their mandate.
According to the United Nations, “Forests and trees store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas. Trees also improve the local climate, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 percent. Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8 degrees Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent. Urban trees are excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants in the air and fine particulates.”
The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/67/200 on 21 December 2012, which declared that March 21 of each year is to be observed as the International Day of Forests. The resolution encourages all member states to organise activities relating to all types of forests.