• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ogun moves against illegal tree felling

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Faced by multiple challenges of illegal tree felling, the Ogun State government has taken decisive measures against illegal tree felling in its forest reserves.

This, according to the state government, is coupled with problem of land encroachment at the state-owned forest reserves, which had over the years accounted for a loss of about N60 billion.

Consequently, the state government through the ministries of agriculture and forestry has entered into an agreement with the cocoa farmers that have farms in and around the forest reserves on possible forest regeneration and prevention of land encroachment, just as the government has earmarked one million tree seedlings for the afforestation exercise.

Speaking with BusinessDay in Abeokuta shortly after the commissioners’ meeting with cocoa farmers on the regeneration of illegally felled trees in government’s forest reserves across the state, Adebayo Fari, commissioner for forestry, disclosed that a monitoring team would be constituted to ensure strict compliance, having distributed the tree seedlings for planting.

He said: “We would from time to time inspect the farms where we expect the farmers to plant the tree seedlings and their cocoa trees. We expect the two to be nurtured and growing up at the same rate. However, where we discover that a farmer is taking care of only his cocoa and not the tree, we would not hesitate to deal with such farmer accordingly.”

While revealing that the government’s initial plan was to dislodge cocoa farmers that were culpable of illegal tree felling and land encroachment from its reserves, Fari noted that government was only lenient with them in order not to severe their source of livelihood, but urged them not to abuse the opportunity by not extending their farms beyond the approved limits.

Also speaking, Ronke Sokefun, commissioner for agriculture, represented by the special adviser to the governor on agriculture, Wale Ogunyomade, urged the farmers to take good care of the seedlings and nurture both their cocoa trees and other economic trees planted in forest reserves as agreed, warning them not to go beyond the lands allocated to them.

Responding on behalf of other cocoa farmers, Azeez Fayomi pledged their readiness to abide by the rules guiding the agreement and assured the government of cocoa farmers’ support for the forest reserves regeneration and afforestation exercise, commending the state government for its gesture, he described as “a welcome development.

RAZAQ AYINLA