The Kogi State Government on Wednesday organised a one-day training for its forestry officers, guards and contractors on forestry tariff and tree planting in the lead up to the re-opening of its forests.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the government had placed a ban on forestry activities in the state on March 17, 2016, so as to enable the government to have total control of its forests.
In her address, the Commissioner for the Environment and Natural Resources, Mrs Rosemary Osikoya, said that the training was aimed at preparing all the stakeholders to come on board.
She said that all those coming on board would go through the process basically to ensure the enforcement of laws that were enacted to protect the forest resources.
“For the forests to be re-opened; there are certain preconditions that must be met in ensuring internal security for effective forest utilisation, management, conservation and sustainable development.
“Although we are generating revenue for the government, our first interest is for the people of Kogi to have an environment that is safe, healthy and of benefit to everybody.
“Climate change is as a result of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of massive deforestation in our environment, which has a direct correlation between the health and wellbeing of the people.
“Today, we are here to educate ourselves as saw millers, timber contractors, forest officers and other stakeholders on those things we must do as our respective functions and keep them,’’ she said.
Besides, the commissioner said that Kogi had about 194 massive erosion sites by over 50 per-cent assessment, especially in the eastern parts of the state.
Osikoya also said that the state government had earmarked 20 hectares of land for 2017 tree planting, saying that Gov. Yahaya Bello would inaugurate the tree planting and formally re-open the forests on Thursday, Aug. 10.
She noted that the Bureau of Public Private Partnership (BPPP) had managed the process for selecting the timber contractors in a very transparent way, adding the training was held to educate them on their scheduled functions.
She thanked Gov. Bello for his commitment and dedication in ensuring that Kogi adopted a good approach to the safety of the environment.
Mr Julius Abu, Assistant Director, Extension, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), told NAN that the training was meant to expose the state’s forest officers and timber contractors to the state’s new tariff on forestry produce.
He said the tariff reflected the new sale prices of forestry produce which the state government had just launched because the old ones had been overtaken by events.
“We have come up with a new tariff which will now guide the sales of forestry produce as soon as the forests are reopened.
“The Revenue Office will collect the money but the forest officers and guards are the managers of the forests.
“We are also here to put the forest officers and guards through on what they should know and the instruments they should use in measuring trees and log volume for prospective buyers.
“The state is going into real afforestation projects right from this year and for the state to effectively plant trees and manage forests, it must have competent forestry managers,’’ he said.
Abu urged the citizens and other stakeholders to support the implementation of the new forestry tariff and other environmental programmes for the benefit of the people.
Mr Yakubu Ocholi, a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Emergency Management, commended the governor for his efforts to make the environment people-friendly.
He also lauded Bello for ensuring that the state’s forest resources were well-preserved and effectively utilised for the benefit of the citizens.
Ocholi advised the forest guards to give quality service delivery, while refraining from taking laws into their own hands.