Lagos State Government says it would soon begin an audit of forests estates in the State to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as secure them against intruders who may be using the forests as cover to perpetrate nefarious and criminal activities.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya who disclosed this in Lagos today at press conference to commemorate the Y2021 International Day of Forests explained that the audit would also enable the State Government ascertain what was left of its forest and biological biodiversity.
Olusanya noted that climate change as a global threat was worsening water stress, food vulnerability, desertification, increased global temperature as well as putting thousands of communities at risk hence it has to be factored into forest-food-water equation.
“Climate change is a global threat and has to be factored into forest-food-water equation. It is exacerbating water stress, food vulnerability, desertification, increased global temperature and putting thousands of communities at risk.
“As a means of mitigating climate change, the State Government intends to carry out an audit of the forests estates in Lagos to enable us ascertain what is left of our forest and biological biodiversity with a view to properly securing them against intruders who may be using the forests as cover to perpetrate nefarious and criminal activities,” the Commissioner averred.
Olusanya stated that there exists a close link between forests, water management, agriculture and food security which is a mandate of the State Government hence enough reason for the State to ensure forest preservation and arrest the menace of deforestation and forest degradation.
She noted that deforestation remained a matter of deep global concern leading to global climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The Commissioner further stated that forest restoration and avoiding biodiversity loss requires a significant increased level of funding and innovative financing from private funds and traditional investors.
“In order to address sustainable water issues, many international processes identified the restoration of degraded forests and other lands as one of the key solutions. And more countries, including Nigeria are making commitments to support that approach. Hundreds of billions of dollars per year will be needed for the restoration of this degraded lands, while governments are facing increasing constraints on public funding.
“For long term financing solutions, we need to rely on creative mixture of resources from the private sector and instruments that will enable self-sustained financing such as environmental and or ecological funds,” Olusanya asserted.
The Commissioner noted that the theme of this year’s celebration, Forest Restoration: A Path to Recovery and Well-being, is apt just as she reiterated the strong commitment of the State Government to the promotion of sustainable food production in a healthy environment through efficient service delivery.
According to Olusanya, this objective is in line with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) mandate of attaining a world without hunger in line with UNICEF’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 of Zero Hunger.
The Commissioner pointed out that the State Government intends to take advantage of the Forest Development Law which provides for Forestry Trust Fund and Private Participation to fund Forestry projects and programs through public private partnership and also approach the federal Government in order to access the ecological fund to tackle some of these damages to the ecosystem.
She disclosed that the State is raising indigenous tree seedlings in its nurseries in Badagry and Ikorodu for various tree planting activities in order to prevent the extinction of local flora heritages.
The Commissioner explained that the State has also partnered with the Lagos Urban Forestry and Animal Shelter Initiative to establish the Lagos Urban Forestry and Animal Welfare Centre to especially protect Lophiraalata, an endangered, almost extinct indigenous hardwood and other wildlife species.
“The State Government has observed movements of Loxodontaafricanaafricana (African Forest Elephants) recently within Lagos-Ogun Boundary (Epe waterside). We are, therefore, working with local communities in the area to protect the boundary Forests, prevent the elephants from poachers and halt further encroachment into their habitats.
She emphasized that it was time to educate and raise the awareness of all and sundry on the importance of protecting the remaining forest cover especially in the State with a forest cover estimated to be less than 0.2% and fast declining.
The Commissioner therefore urged everyone to plant a tree, manage, conserve and restore the forests and ensure a healthy planet and sustainable livelihoods for all people.