By Emem Idio
ONDEWARI — LEADERS and stakeholders of Ondewari community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, have deplored the indiscriminate cutting down of economic trees in the community and environs by lumberjacks.
They warned that activities of lumberjacks if not checked, posed serious threats to their livelihood, especially for those who depend on forest products for survival.
Seek Bayelsa Assembly collaboration
The community, which commended the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on the proposed Heritage Control, Biodiversity and Archaeological Sites Preservation Bill 2017, implored the lawmakers to consider stakeholders’ input before passing it into law.
At a one-day advocacy forum organized by the Ondewari Health, Education and Environment Project, OHEEP, the community leaders, elders and youths, who highlighted the negative activities of lumberjacks to forest resources, particularly trees, calling on government to safeguard the environment.
Environmentalist and activist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, who presented OHEEP position, expressed the hope that the proposed bill would be more holistic, enjoining the lawmakers to come up with legislation that will protect the forest reserves from unscrupulous loggers and preserve same for generations unborn.
Livelihood of natives under threat
“The crux of this gathering here is about the rich biodiversity which our environment has been endowed with, however, the flora and fauna have suffered decimation occasioned by man’s activities mostly oil and gas exploration and exploitation-induced pollution and degradation of the environment. The rate at which trees are cut down in recent times is very alarming and this is also threatening the livelihood of natives who depend on our forest and by extension, the local economy could also be affected.
“Fruit bearing trees which locals look up to annually as part of their livelihood source in the environment are now cut down for timber by loggers in some environments,” he said.
Morris added, “It is from this premise that OHEEP has identified the need to commend the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for one of the current bills, which have been referred to the Joint Committee, the Heritage Control and Archaeological Sites Preservation Bill, 2017. It is the considered view of OHEEP that the proposed law will be more holistic to control the excesses of loggers operating in our environment.”