The Lagos State Government says it will soon begin an audit of all forest estates in the state to mitigate the effects of climate change and secure them against intruders.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said this at a news conference to commemorate the International Day of Forests in Lagos on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Olusanya said that the audit would secure the forest estates against intruders who might be using the forests as cover for criminal activities.
She said that the audit would also enable the state government ascertain what was left of its forests and biological biodiversity.
Olusanya identified the climate change as a global threat that was worsening water stress, food vulnerability, desertification and increased global temperature.
She noted that it was also putting thousands of communities at risk hence it had to be factored into forest-food-water equation.
“Climate change is a global threat and has to be factored into forest-food-water equation. It is exacerbating water stress, food vulnerability, desertification, increased global temperature and putting thousands of communities at risk.
“As a means of mitigating climate change, the state government intends to carry out an audit of the forests estates in Lagos to enable us ascertain what is left of our forests and biological biodiversity.
“This is with a view to properly securing them against intruders who may be using the forests as cover to perpetrate nefarious and criminal activities,” the commissioner noted.
Olusanya said that there was a close link between forests, water management, agriculture and food security which was a mandate of the state government.
She said that was enough reason for the state government to ensure forest preservation and arrest the menace of deforestation and forest degradation.
She noted that deforestation remained a matter of deep global concern, leading to global climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The commissioner said that forest restoration and avoiding biodiversity loss required a significant increase in level of funding and innovative financing from private funds and traditional investors.
“In order to address sustainable water issues, many international processes identified the restoration of degraded forests and other lands as one of the key solutions.
“More countries, including Nigeria are making commitments to support that approach.
“Hundreds of billions of dollars per year will be needed for the restoration of these degraded lands, while governments are facing increasing constraints on public funding.
“For long term financing solutions, we need to rely on creative mixture of resources from the private sector and instruments that will enable self-sustained financing such as environmental and or ecological funds,” Olusanya said.
The commissioner noted that the theme of this year’s celebration, “Forest Restoration: A Path to Recovery and Well-Being” was apt.
She reiterated the strong commitment of the state government to the promotion of sustainable food production in a healthy environment through efficient service delivery.
According to her, this objective is in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) mandate of attaining a world without hunger in line with UNICEF’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger.
Olusanya said that the state government would take advantage of the Forest Development Law which provides for Forestry Trust Fund and Private Participation to fund Forestry projects and programmes through Public Private Partnership.
She said the state would also approach the Federal Government to access the Ecological Fund to tackle some of these damages to the ecosystem.
Olusanya said that the state was raising indigenous tree seedlings in its nurseries in Badagry and Ikorodu for various tree planting activities to prevent the extinction of local flora heritages.
The commissioner noted that the state had also partnered with the Lagos Urban Forestry and Animal Shelter Initiative to establish the Lagos Urban Forestry and Animal Welfare Centre.
She said this would especially protect Lophiraalata, an endangered, almost extinct indigenous hardwood, and other wildlife species.
“The state government has observed movements of Loxodontaafricanaafricana (African Forest Elephants) recently within Lagos-Ogun Boundary (Epe waterside).
“We are, therefore, working with local communities in the area to protect the boundary forests, prevent the elephants from poachers and halt further encroachment into their habitats,” she said.
Olusanya emphasised the need to educate and raise the awareness of all and sundry on the importance of protecting the remaining forest cover, especially in the state with a forest cover estimated to be less than 0.2 per cent and fast declining.
The commissioner, therefore, urged everyone to plant a tree, manage, conserve and restore the forests and ensure a healthy planet and sustainable livelihood for all people.
By Olayinka Olawale