Obaseki, IDH seek preservation of Edo forest assets
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, met with over 40 host communities of the Okomu Forest Reserve, urging the support and collaboration of all stakeholders towards the protection and preservation of forest assets in the state.
On his part, the Lead, IDH NISCOPS Oil Palm Programme Nigeria, Dr. Chris Okafor, stated that “The workshop has to do with challenges, institutional infrastructure, and improvement of yield and small holder farmers as well as improved business practices and management in Okomu.”
Acting Chairman, Forestry Commission in Edo State, Edward Obiaw, emphasised the need for regeneration of the forest, as part of efforts to mitigate climate change and protect the environment.
Obaseki made the call at a workshop for the coalition of actors, including communities and other stakeholders. The theme was: “Improved Livelihoods and Environmental Sustainability in the Okomu Forest Landscape.”
The event was held at the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy in Benin City.
Presenting his keynote address, the governor said his administration remained committed to the diversification of the state’s economy, adding that the government is taking advantage of the forest resources in the state to boost Edo’s economy. “This workshop is an opportunity for the over 40 communities around Okomu to brainstorm on how to preserve the forest resources and improve the livelihoods of the people who depend on these resources.
“We are, particularly, blessed in Edo and we will continue to work with partners such as IDH because we are very keen to diversify our economy. As a governor, I have always advocated that the time has come to diversify the economy. We can’t continue to rely on oil to grow our economy anymore.”
Decrying the spate of illegal activities, especially at the Inikurugha axis, Obaseki added: “Okomu is very precious and rare because it is a lowland rainforest and a home to rare species like the white-throated monkeys as well as the various floral in the area. However, these valuable resources are being degraded, especially through illegal logging, unsupervised farming and other human activities.”
The governor further called on the stakeholders to deliberate and come up with ideas on how to stall further actions that portend possible loss of the forest, its resources as well as its cultural significance, adding: “As a government, we have realised that we can no longer do certain things. So, we want to partner with communities and other parties to do what they know how to do best. We will work with people who are better at doing what should be done just like IDH while we can concentrate on what we should do, which includes regulations.
Through effective stakeholders’ engagements and consultations, we are going to use this project as a blueprint to address similar issues other communities are experiencing, as we intend to also use oil palms to regrow our forests and plant timbers to diversify our economy.”