Timber dealers and suppliers in Edo State have lauded Governor Godwin Obaseki’s stance on illegal logging, which threatens the forest reserve in the state, describing it as a pro-active step to save the wealth of the state.
The dealers, who have had a running battle with illegal loggers, in a chat with journalists, said that their business was almost going extinct because of the activities of the illegal loggers, who go in the night to fell wood and sell off without recourse to the approved modalities.
One of the dealers, who does not want his name in print, for what he called “security reason,” said, “The governor’s stance on illegal logging in the state is a huge relief for us who live on proceeds from this business.
“If nothing is done to halt the activities of individuals and groups who log illegally, there would be no forest in the state in the future. The move by the governor would restore sanity to activities of professional logging in the state.”
He explained that “the activities of illegal loggers create distortions in the market. They sell their products at ridiculous prices because they do not pay taxes. Some move their logs on water bodies by night from Edo State to neighbouring Delta and Ondo states and as far as Lagos, without supporting the Edo economy.”
He assured: “Those of us who do clean business are ready to support the governor’s reforestation policy, which is a sustainable plan to protect our commonwealth.”
Obasek worried by the alarming rate at which forest resources are being depleted on Thursday had approved the constitution of a high-powered task team made up of top officials of the state to halt the destruction of the forest reserves and come up with tested solutions that will preserve the public wealth.
According to Obaseki, “the integrity of the Edo’s forests has been compromised, people are tying down public wealth, illegal logging is rife and much of it takes place at night and the biodiversity is being destroyed. These practices have exposed us to harsh effects of climate change and global warming.”
The task-team which is headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq., also has the Commissioner for Justice/Attorney General of the state, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe; Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Monday Osaigbovo; Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment, Emmanuel Usoh; Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Edorodion Oye Erimona; Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Chief Osaro Idah; Commissioner for Environment, Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku; Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Jimoh Ijegbai; and the Managing Director of Edo Geographic Information Service Agency, Architect Frank Evbuomwan.
The governor explained that the constitution of the task-team became necessary as his administration is committed to enthroning best practice in the management of forest resources in the state.
Other measures, the state government is set to adopt, Obaseki explained, include “the setting up of a Forestry Commission made up of experts, the employment and training of well – equipped rangers, collaborations and partnerships with conservation groups, communities as well as the strengthening of existing laws to reverse the destruction of forests in the state.”
He said the work of the task team would begin with a review and audit of the forest reserves and resources, after which a reclamation plan will be designed based on scientific research outcomes to ensure Edo State joins the league of countries deploying best practice in the management of forest resources.
“The threat posed by climate change is real. We cannot leave our future to chance. We are already grappling with desertification in the North with the associated crisis and flooding resulting from indiscriminate felling of trees,” he added.
The task-team will also guide the state government on international collaboration and partnerships to ensure the protection and preservation of the reserves diverse plants and animals.