Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state will ensure its forest belt is preserved as more investors in oil palm, cocoa, rubber plantations set up shop in the state, noting that state will collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the sector on a reforestation programme.
He also expressed commitment to partner with the Federal College of Forest Resources Management (FCFRM) to re-grow the state’s forest reserve through intensive tree planting.
The governor disclosed this during a courtesy visit by the management of the FCFRM, at the Government House, in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Governor Obaseki said investors trooping into the state are showing interest in cultivating oil palm, rubber and cocoa under a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initiative, noting “We have investors in oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations. We want to ensure that as we bring investors to cultivate large estates, we get a commitment from them to help us re-grow our forest and conserve our forestry resources.”
The governor added that his administration was ready to collaborate with the FCFRM in developing tree nursery to grow between 4 to 10 million trees such that each household would be able to plant a tree.
He said the tree planting has become necessary due to the state’s dwindling ecological cover, noting “We need to green the state. When you take a look at the ecological map, you will understand why we need to restore our ecological cover.”
The governor said the state has lost a significant portion of its forest reserve but assured that when the bill to establish the Forestry Commission is passed, it will protect the state’s forest resources.
“The bill sent to the House of Assembly to set up our Forestry Commission will legislate on how we can preserve what is left of our forest reserve. Efforts to stop deforestation will be difficult unless the bill is revoked through the parliament. It shows how serious we have taken our forest assets,” he added.
He noted that aside tree planting, the state seeks collaborations on the training of forest rangers, developing the School of Forest Resources Management, in Uromi and also for the setting up of Forestry Commission in the state.
Provost, FCFRM, Sakponba, Dr Benson Osikabor, expressed appreciation to the governor on the cooperation and mutual understanding between the Institute and the state over the years.
He said following the law signed by the President in 2018 to establish three training colleges to enhance forestry education in Nigeria, Edo State has been chosen as a location for one.
“I am glad to announce that Edo State was chosen as the location for Federal College of Forest Resources Management, South-South. We have watched with deep admiration, your policies, actions and pronouncement over the past three years, particularly in the area of environmental friendliness vis-a-vis ban on logging activities in the state, quality road construction and commitment to flood and erosion control,” he said.