THE Oyo State Government says its decision to revoke the 26,000 hectares of forest reserve land allocated by the immediate past administration was in the interest of the state.
Briefing newsmen on Tuesday over the revocation, Mr Kehinde Ayoola, the state Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, said the allocation was illegal and not for agricultural purpose as claimed by the past administration.
According to Ayoola, the administration of Sen. Abiola Ajimobi illegally allocated 6,000 and 20,000 hectares to individuals at Gambari in Oluyole Local Government Area and Opara in Oke Ogun area of the state.
” ‘Their claim was that the allocations were for agricultural purposes but you cannot see any farming or other agricultural activities going on in any of the areas now.
”It is very unfortunate that the administration that was supposed to preserve forests in the state to fight against global warming was depleting them.
”Forests are essential in the management of ecology of our state inthat they assist in fighting global warming.
” Forests also contain plants with their roots binding the soil together to ensure that there is no erosion, so to avoid ecological disaster, you need forests.
”Nations throughout the world look into their reserves or even increase the size of their forest reserves.
”So it is ungodly for anybody to do anything that would reduce the size of our forests or to take such for themselves.
”The present government will do everything to secure and protect its forest reserves and also take steps to expand its forest resources.
”The public should be made to know that we are on course to access significant grants from the United Nations for the development of our forest resources under a programme called REDD Plus – Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation.
”The REDD programme is in the second phase and Oyo didn’t apply during the first phase.
”The team for the REDD was in the state last week for the selection of three states out of seven states competing for the grants.
”You can now see how the allocation of such forest reserves to individuals would be and work against us on the REDD grants,
”That is why Gov. Makinde takes serious exception to looting of our patrimony,” the commissioner said.
He urged the people of the state not to be distracted, saying the Makinde administration would continue to serve them.