Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, inaugurated the Edo State Forestry Commission with a 10-year Forest Restoration and Plantation plan to tackle deforestation, forest degradation and develop the forest assets.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony held at the Okomu National Park in Udo, Ovia South West local government area of the state, Obaseki decried the loss and degradation of forest lands over the years.
Obaseki promised that the newly inaugurated commission would reverse the trend, harness the forest wildlife resources to promote conservation of the ecosystem and take charge of the ungovern spaces in the forest.
He noted that the state was fortunate as far as forestry was concerned, saying “forestry management started in Edo almost a 100 years ago and we still have documents in our archives to show that.
“As far back as the 1920s, forest reserves were created and were managed under a 50-year felling circle.
“Which means that if you are giving concession to log in an area, you are not allowed to come back to that area for another 50 years.
“We have always had this history of managing our forest even as late as 1995, we had a third working cycle where we planted for another 25 years.
“But as I speak today, the government I came to meet, there was nothing about planning for forestry. There was nothing about sustainability.
“So, these setbacks we have suffered is being corrected today with the the inauguration of the this commission.
“We had the same problem with sports and that is why we set up the sports commission to deal with sports exclusively.
“So, we felt one way to handle the issue of forestry and sustainability was to set up a commission whose sole purpose is to deal with forest assets and all forest activities.”
The governor noted that, in the past, Edo was known for timber production with foreign earnings, noting that “timber business was abandoned after the discovery of crude oil
“We have been talking about diversification of the economy. Until 1970s, we had no crude oil, things like timber accounted and helped us in foreign exchange.
“Timber was our crude oil but because we found crude oil, we abandoned everything else, that is why we lost the culture of sustainablity.
“We can regrow our forest if we start now. So, we must have a plan. Over the next 10 years, we must ensure commitment with a clear articulated strategy for restoratation and regeneration of our forest.”
Also, speaking, the Conservator-General, National Park Service, Ibrahim Musa, said that the commission would play a pivotal role in combatting the threat of deforestation as well as the menace of illegal logging.
Musa, who was represented by Mr Muhammed Kabiru, expressed optimism that the commission would help to sustain and secure the forest reserves and wildlife resources for future generations.
By Nefishetu Yakubu