The state Commissioner for Forestry, Ayo Olubori, who spoke after a stakeholders’ meeting in Abeokuta, said about N4 billion is lost annually to exploitation and depletion of its nine forest reserves spread across the state.
“Regrettably, I want to inform you that we have discovered that about N4 billion is lost annually to bush burning and forest encroachment by illegal cocoa farmers, timber contractors, clearing of land areas for housing by intruders and all forms of illegal timber exploitation,” he said.
He said the amount would have accrued to the state within the period if its nine forest reserves had been well conserved, adding that it was more alarming that in spite of the non-conservation, people have continued to encroach into the reserves carrying out timber exploitation without government’s authority.
Olubori said government decided to invite stakeholders who are major players in the sector to decide the way forward at revamping and regenerating the degraded forests.
At the end of the meeting, a communiqué was issued where it was resolved that stakeholders within the reserved area would fund the regeneration exercise, adding that for every economic tree destroyed, 20 fruiting cocoa trees would be cut down.
The resolution added that stakeholders exploiting the reserves would be charged on the basis of their produce per trip from the reserve as regeneration fee.