By James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
Ogun State government and Nigerian Breweries Plc on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the reforestation of 500 hectares of Olokemeji forest reserve in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Forestry in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the Director of Corporate Affairs, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mrs. Sade Morgan, said the project is aimed at preserving the environment, protecting the watershed, and replenishing soil water, thereby mitigating the effects of global warming.
Morgan who disclosed that her company aims to plant 600,000 trees in the reserve, noted that the project affirms her company’s sustainability of Brewing a Better World (BaBW).
She added that her company had committed N500million to the project which would be executed in conjunction with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for a period of 10 years.
She said, “We plan to replace trees that have been harvested from 500 hectares of land at the Olokemeji forest reserve in Abeokuta using species of trees that are indigenous to the area”.
“A very integral part of our Every Drop strategy is the water balancing initiative, which is aimed at retaining rainfall runoffs within the watershed and recharge aquifers. This is to be achieved through collaborative actions with other stakeholders based in the watershed”.
“The reforestation of 500 hectares of the Olokemeji forest reserve in Abeokuta has been identified as a suitable water retention project to improve the watershed health”.
“To fulfill our objective of protecting water resources, we aim to restore a portion of the Olokemeji forest reserve that has been denuded of trees, improving the recharge of the Ewekoro and Abeokuta aquifer and enhancing the health of the watershed”.
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On his part, the State Commissioner for Forestry, Hon. Tunji Akinosi condemned the encroachment of forest reserves in the state by people who engage in illegal farming and other activities.
Akinosi lamented that the activities are detrimental to the proper forestry growth, management, and development of the state. He warned that the state would not hesitate to arrest and prosecute anyone found encroaching forest reserves in the state.
While stressing the importance of tree planting, the Commissioner said, “tree planting has been adjudged worldwide as a prime factor in human development, environmental amelioration, health system development, mitigating the effects of global warming among other things.
“Trees also play a vital role in watershed management – a basis on which the State dedicated two forest reserves (Arakanga and Edun Stream) for watershed protection.
“Over the years, we have constantly educated indigenes of the State on the roles trees to play in the provision of clean water as well as replenishing soil water (aquifer recharge). We have also regularly called on investors and individuals to join forces with the government to plants trees”, he said.
Akinosi disclosed that the state is targeting the regeneration of 1,000 hectares of tree plantation annually, adding the state in conjunction with the French government is reafforesting 108,000 hectares of land in the Imeko and Aworo reserves of the state.