Edo Government to Prosecute Forest Reserves Encroachers
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki yesterday said his administration would prosecute and punish those who encroach on the state’s forest reserves, especially the Ogba Zoological Garden.
He made this known while receiving the management and staff of the Forest Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), led by its Executive Director, Adeshola Adepoju, on a courtesy visit to the state government in Benin City.
Obaseki said government would focus on reviving the forest reserves because it was the people’s heritage, adding that his administration would soon draft a bill to the state House of Assembly to institutionalise a Forest Commission to revive its forest reserves.
He noted that the move to create a forest commission was a direct outcome of the environment workshop organised by the state government.“The issue of forest reserves kept playing up when we had a workshop on the environment and the determination to save the forest gave rise to the decision to set up a forest commission to help regenerate our forest reserves,” he said, adding that the move was important and urgent.
He also said the state has barely 15 percent of forest resources and the state government was committed to rebuilding the reserves. “We will soon start rolling out our administration’s forestry plan. We will need support and collaboration in this area and your visit is apt at this time as your institution has the experience, knowledge and capacity to collaborate with my administration to ensure we rebuild our forest reserves. We have so many areas to partner with you so that you can help us bring back standard practices in our forest reserves.
Speaking, Adepoju laudeded the governor for the cooperation and mutual understanding between the Institute and the state, pointing out that Edo was one of the stakeholders in the left-over forest cover of the country, even though forest cover had depleted to less than 5 percent, contrary to the expected minimum of 25 percent.
“The purpose of this visit is to intimate you on the activities of the Institute and to strengthen our existing relationship and hopefully explore other areas of cooperation that will bring further development to the state especially in the area of forestry,” he said.
Adepoju added that research activities in Edo started over 40 years ago at Sakponba Forest reserve and that the institute had established several hectares of research plantations in Sakponba, Ubiaja, Agbede, Uzairue, as well as permanent Sample Plots (PSP) and Strict Natural Reserve (SNR) in Urhonigbe, Iguobazuwa, Ohosu and Okomu purely for research purposes