The Acting Director, Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, Tiamiyu Oladele, has announced plans by the federal government to plant 30 million tree seedlings in 2020 to accelerate afforestation in the country.
Stakeholders in the forestry business in Ekiti State have agreed on a roadmap to rescue the state from desert encroachment.
They said the sum of N1 billion would be required to achieve the planting of the projected four million tree seedlings yearly.
They unanimously agreed that the government should henceforth deny saw millers and loggers the renewal of their operational licences if they refuse to plant trees.
The stakeholders disclosed this in Ado Ekiti yesterday at a workshop organised by a non-governmental organisation, New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), in partnership with the Ekiti State Forestry Commission.
An expert and former Federal Director of Forestry, Mr. Michael Osakuade, who spoke on the topic: ‘The Ekiti Forest We Want’, said part of the roadmap has been that the stakeholders would plant four million seedlings yearly for the next 15 years.
Osakuade added that serious efforts needed to be applied for sustainable forest management and governance in Ekiti State, in view of indiscriminate deforestation practice and the emerging desertification in some areas of the state.
According to him, “Actually, Ekiti State is seriously endangered by this indiscriminate deforestation. To ensure that we get to that level we want, our target is 4,000 to 5,000 hectares of lands for the planting of four million seedlings annually for the next 15 years.
“And part of the roadmap for our forest regeneration plan was that saw millers and others involved in the forestry business can only get the renewal of their operational permits if they show evidence of tree planation. The practice is that if they cut one tree, they must plant four in replacement.
“The values of this forest policy can’t be underestimated, it is enormous. Apart from giving us the opportunities to reclaim our lands from the Indian hemp planters, forest invaders and land encroachers, it can also be used for recreation, wild life conservation, research centres for institutions that can generate revenues for individuals and the government.”
The state Commissioner for Environment, Mrs. Iyabo Fakunle-Okieimen, expressed fear on the danger of deforestation in the state, saying the government led by Governor Kayode Fayemi has grown heavily subsidised indigenous and exotic trees to be sold to stakeholders in the state to drive the vision.
Okieimen lamented that most of the 10 government forest reserves in the state have been depleted by indiscriminate bush burning while some were being criminally deployed for the plantation of Indian hemp and other dangerous weeds.