Obaseki unveils forest reserve regeneration plan, rallies investors to reclaim forest cover

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his administration will partner with investors in the green economy to regenerate the forest reserve in the state.

The governor disclosed this at a two-day workshop on mainstreaming green growth strategy in Edo State Economic Planning and Budget Processes.

He said, “We are very open to partnerships and businesses that will invest and work in Edo State in a sustainable manner. We are putting in place a sensitive measure that will help us attain a green economy.”

Obaseki, who delivered his speech virtually, noted, “We are concerned and worried about inclusiveness as people are desperate to survive and would do things to hurt the environment.

“We are focusing on obtaining data and information which will be used for planning for development. This has led us to prioritize the DATA for MEGA project. I am glad to inform you that we have completed three local government areas and the data received will be important in planning for years ahead,” he added.

“We did an extensive forest audit with the assistance of Pro-Forest to know how much of our forest is left. We found that our forest has been so badly degraded. We have decimated about 150,000 hectares of land, making it unavailable for the growth of oil palm and those to benefit from it must help with reforestation.

“For every company which has been allocated land to grow oil palm, they must help with growing the forest. For any four hectares of land given to a company to grow oil palm, that company is given the responsibility to grow one hectare of the forest. It will help our reforestation initiative. It will also help us to get investment into our forest,” the governor said.

He said green growth is important for the people of Edo State who are most at risk, noting that the state seats on the rainforest and the rate at which people are cutting down trees exposes the forest cover, leading to erosion and flooding problems.

“We can’t continue to behave as if we are the last generation of human species on earth. As such, we shouldn’t treat the environment and nature the way we like, without thinking what to leave for generations after us. If the generation before us treated nature and environment the way we do now, we would not have what we have today.

“We are working with various organizations and partners in oil palm plantation development to help us put together a strategy to restart the oil palm industry in the state. In the past, we had over 680,000 hectares of reserve used as forest which also helped sustain livelihoods. But today, we barely have 150,000 hectares left.”

In his remarks, the Head of the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), Kelvin Uwaibi, said, “The Obaseki-led administration is keen on getting the input of all relevant stakeholders in its economic planning process. This is important for us as a state, following the 30-year plan, which is a sustainable pathway for the development of the state.”

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