The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said his government is partnering with an Edo-based international firm, Rongtai Wood Company, to grow one million trees a year for the next ten years.
The governor disclosed this during a tour of facilities at the company in Utesi, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State.
Obaseki said: “This is quite impressive as they have thought through the process of how to source for raw material for their finished products. The extent of work done involves a lot of research and they have brought in one of the best professionals in the area of wood culture and forestry from China, who has helped them set up the facilities, laboratories, the research seed to help regenerate seedlings of different species of wood that will do well in our domestic environment.
“With what I have seen today, and by their plans, they will have three million seedlings of various species of trees by 2024.”
He continued: “We will collaborate with them more because they have the capacity to enable us to break the record of tree planting. We want to break the world record on tree planting in Edo State.
“We would push their capacity from 3 million to 10 million trees. We would see how we can grow at least one million trees a year in the state over the next 10 years. With that, we would have the kind of forest cover that we need.”
The governor said the focus of his administration is to create the enabling environment for businesses and investors to thrive, thereby contributing their quota to the development of the state.
“We are blessed and lucky to have this quality of investment in Edo State; that means we are just doing something right, which is why they have invested in our state”.
He further noted: “As a government, we have to balance sustainability with livelihood. Forestry was our asset before oil became dominant in Nigeria. Before independence, forestry was one of our major sources of revenue as a state and it sustained our economy.
“Before independence, we had an excess of over 600,000 square kilometers of forestry land, which has been deforested and has become a major environmental challenge for the state.”
“We are working with experts to draft a new forestry law and also set up a forestry commission that will operate independently. We will also hire a new generation of forest guards and rangers to help govern the forest space. We will also put in place a safeguard to protect the forest and other operators,” the governor assured.
The managing director, Rongtai Wood Company, Mr. Huang said, “We are happy for this visit, and pledge our operations to be very legal. All what we are doing here is what will benefit the company and the state. We will operate on a sustainable basis.”