Edo State is today launching a new Forestry Commission, dedicated to ending deforestation and actively restoring degraded forests across Edo State in Nigeria. Proforest has supported this initiative with the government of Edo State and the Edo State Oil Palm Programme as a member of the Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative, signed by the Federal Government at CoP27.
The Forestry Commission, established through new legislation, will focus on conservation, sustainable management of the state’s forest and wildlife resources, and will be responsible for coordinating and regulating utilisation of forest and wildlife resources as well as lead the establishment of public plantations.
It is aligned to the Edo State Forest Restoration and Plantation Strategy, which aims to restore degraded forest areas, with emphasis on forest plantation development for the sustainable supply of forest goods and services that can deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.
The new legislation updates a law from 1968, in which time Nigeria’s forest has been severely depleted. The findings of forest and land cover analysis, which the state government commissioned Proforest to do in 2017, showed that only about 120,000 ha out of a total of 570,000 ha gazetted as forest reserves (representing 29% of Edo State) remain forest. This data became the foundation of efforts to ensure that remaining forests are protected from agricultural expansion and that only degraded land is earmarked for agriculture development.
Edo State became a partner of the Tropical Forest Alliance’s Africa Palm Oil Initiative in 2018, committing to the implementation of the Marrakesh Declaration for the Sustainable Development of Palm Oil. In 2022 Hon. Mohammed Abdullahi, Minster of Environment, signed the expanded Africa Sustainable Commodities Declaration at a federal level, building on Edo State’s leadership.
“From the outset, we have focused our efforts on the importance of integrating palm oil production with forest management, using integrated land use planning to systematically support better production and conservation,” said His Excellency Godwin Obaseki, Governor of Edo State. “Indeed, Edo State’s very first stakeholder workshop under the Africa Palm Oil Initiative to agree on Principles and Actions for sustainable oil palm development included both oil palm and forestry companies, emphasizing the interconnected nature of the two sectors.”
Another measure and milestone of the Africa Sustainable Commodities Initiative in Nigeria is the Produce-Protect-Rehabilitate concept that aims to ensure that agricultural development – and particularly oil palm – contributes to restoring the forest cover of the state. Under this legal framework, private companies operating in the state will need to provide the resources to restore a degraded forest area equivalent to 25% of their land holding, include smallholders in development and follow the principles and process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for local communities and indigenous people for all land allocation.
“It is a very significant day to see the launch of the Edo State Forestry Commission, bringing forestry law up to date, aligned to the imperatives of today: economic prosperity and improved livelihoods, while protecting forests and biodiversity,”
said Abraham Baffoe, global and Africa director of Proforest.
Edo State is also partnering with the Federal College of Forest Resources Management (FCFRM) to train forest managers and to ensure seedlings are produced for the restoration of the state’s degraded forest reserves in the South-South region.