Bayelsa State government has halted logging without permit and other deforestation activities in order to protect the state’s forest reserves.
Henceforth, all commercial timber dealers are to obtain permit from the Ministry of Environment before embarking on logging activities.
Governor Douye Diri, who stated this on Monday during this year’s International Day of Forests celebration in Yenagoa, also directed that an executive bill in consultation with the Environment Ministry and related civil society organisations be prepared and forwarded to the House of Assembly.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the governor also said that the new bill would repeal existing environmental laws that are now obsolete.
His words: “Henceforth, all timber dealers are to obtain permit before taking out logs from our forest reserves. This is to protect our forests.
“I hereby direct that an executive bill in consultation with the state Ministry of Environment and related civil society organisations be sent immediately to the House of Assembly.
“This bill should repeal every other existing laws. I trust the State Assembly to do justice to this bill so that we can protect our forests.” Governor Diri emphasised that his administration was determined to protect such reserves through the legal framework.
“It is interesting that somebody that came from Cameroon has told us about an only specie in the world found in our state and yet we cannot protect it. So this bill should look at ways and means of preserving such few species in our forests.”
The governor, who also frowned at the use of dynamite by fishermen, noted that the bill should make the use of explosives on the state’s waterways an offence.
Diri asserted that as a government that preaches prosperity, it cannot fold its arms and watch forests in the state being degraded.
He directed the Commissioner for Environment to rejuvenate the forest guards and deploy them to their respective local government areas to ensure effective protection of the reserves.
The governor also granted the request by the Ministry of Environment to adopt six proposed forest reserves.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Iselema Gbaranbiri, said the International Day of Forests was declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.
Mr. Gbaranbiri remarked that healthy forests strongly influence the quantity of water yielded from watersheds, discharge the highest quality of water and provide logs, fuel woods, fodder and medicinal plants used by local and indigenous communities.
According to him, the state has six reserves namely the Taylor Creek, Edumanom, Apoi Creek, Nun River, Igbedi Creek and Ikebiri Creek Forest Reserves.
Coordinator of the Red Colobus Conservation Network, Miss Florence Aghomo from Cameroon, stressed the need for Bayelsans to be responsible in forest preservation as its socio-economic benefits cannot be over-emphasised.
According to Miss Aghomo, Nigeria is a home to two of 18 Taxa species known to science and the Niger Delta red Colobus can only be found in Bayelsa and Preuss’s red colobus in Cross River State.
Also speaking, Mr. Morris Alagoa from the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), who lauded the governor for the history making event, appealed for the establishment of a zoological garden and community forest-driven management in the state.
In the same vein, the Executive Director of Trees For Life Initiative, Chief B. Okolo, presented a medicinal plant, Dogoyaro, to the governor and his deputy.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the planting of trees by Senator Diri alongside his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo and other top government functionaries.