The Bayelsa State Government said concerted efforts will be made to protect and conserve the forests from destruction in view of the invaluable benefits to the survival of mankind.
The state Commissioner of Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri who disclosed this at this year’s International Day of Forest with the theme ” Forest Restoration: A Pathway to Recovery and Wellbeing” in Yenagoa said this year’s celebration is to raise awareness on the importance of forests in protection, production, recreation and its contribution to the survival of living organisms.
According to him, this year’s theme is very apt in view of glaring evidences of large scale forests degradation in the state and called for a concerted action to protect and conserve our forests.
He stated that despite the luxuriant vegetation the state is noted for it has witnessed an alarming rate of deforestation of the mangrove vegetation thereby reducing it capacity as a natural coastal defence and making the coastal areas more vulnerable to sea level rise.
The Commissioner noted that government in its desire to reverse the spate of the rapidly dwindling and varnishing forests has proposed formulating news policies in the areas of addressing the alarming shortage of Bayelsa State’s forest estates by carrying out massive afforestation and refforestation programmes, monitoring lumbering and timber related commercial activities especially movement of trucks at night and setting up of a task force comprising of relevant staff of Forestry Department, the JTF and Civil Defence Corps.
Gbaranbiri who enumerated the benefits of forests to include, removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, mitigating the current impacts of climate change, habours a significant number of edible non- timber product like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, strongly influence the quantity of water yielded from watersheds and discharged the highest quantity of water.
Other benefits are: provide logs, fuel wood, fodder and medicinal plants used by locals and indigenous communities, provide protection for soil and reduce the effect of floods and landslides, provide recreational activities as well as serve as a source of primary production- all life directly or indirectly depends of primary production.
He emphasized that as a matter of policy all property developments are to consider the establishment of a green areas as a way of helping to address the scourge of climate change, loggers and hunters are requested to contact forest guard nearest to them on the proper way of taking forest product and oil companies doing business in the state should work in synergy with the state environment ministry in conserving our forests.
Gbaranbiri who pleaded with the state governor, Senator Douye Diri to set in motion the process of constituting the four Forest Reserves in the state, noted with joy the Federal Government willingness to upgrade conservation of the Apoi Creek Forest reserve and the Edumanon Forest reserve.