The Edo State Government is collaborating with the Federal Government, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to tackle the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation, promote environmental sustainability and ensure effective management and utilization of forest resources.
his was disclosed at a one-day state-level stakeholders’ consultation workshop, themed “Preservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of lowland forest mosaic in Ogun, Edo, Delta and Ondo States,’ held in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The workshop had in attendance stakeholders from the public and private sector including in Edo State, including the Commissioner for Environment, Engr. Osasere Evbuomwan; Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Hon. Stephen Idehenre; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Joel Edionwe and the Edo State Facilitator, Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Bashiru Kadiri, as well as delegates from Edo State Forestry Commission, among others
Addressing participants at the workshop, the National Consultant (Sustainable Agriculture) and Team Lead, Food and Agriculture Organization, Professor Adebayo Shittu said the project is aimed at improving the sustainable use, conservation, and restoration of lowland forests, protecting globally significant biodiversity, and strengthening livelihoods of local communities who depend on the forests in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ogun States landscapes He said, “Deforestation and forest degradation is happening at an alarming rate, resulting in many wildlife habitats being destroyed, farmlands opened to flooding, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gases accumulation, and loss of forest ecosystem, among others.
“The project includes an integrated landscape management system, protection of the remaining core biodiversity ecosystem, reduction of pressure on diversification through the adoption of sustainable production practices and livelihoods and knowledge management and innovation.” According to him, “The Global Environment Facility had budgeted $3,502,968 to assist the Federal Government of Nigeria for the project under the focal area of biodiversity through its implementation agency, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and it is expected to run from 2022-2028 (60 Months).”
He continued, “The government has agreed to address the challenge of deforestation and forest degradation. The money should be used by four states including Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ogun States of which out of the 12 forest reserves identified, Edo State has the only national park - Okomu National Park- and at least three other forest reserves. “We will in this visit, tour the Okomu National Park, the forest reserves, and other key biodiversity hotspots and interact with the stakeholders so that the decisions coming out from this will be in the best interest of those in Edo State, especially the local communities that depend on the forest landscape for their livelihood to see how they can be supported to embrace sustainable management of those resources.”
On his part, Evbuomwan reaffirmed the state government’s commitment to the protection of forests and environmental sustainability, adding, “Edo State through the Forestry Commission has developed the Forestry Reforestation Strategy, focused especially on plantation establishment with a view of addressing deforestation and forest degradation. It has, among other things, a target to improve degraded lands, combat climate change, improve livelihood, provide employment, and boost revenue and national economic growth.”