The Osun State government during the weekend ordered the illegal occupants of government owned Shasha Forest Reserves to vacate the lands or face the full wrath of the law.
At a press briefing in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on the implementation of the state government White paper on Shasha Forest Reserve in Ile-Ife, the chairman of the Implementation Committee, Prof. Labo Popoola, lamented that their activities in the forest reserves were negatively affecting the health and economic conditions of the people of the state.
Popoola advised the illegal occupants to desist from encroaching into government forest reserves, insisting that their activities were destroying the ecosystem.
Popoola, who is the Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University, Osogbo, said the state government was ready to reclaim Shasha Forest Reserves and other reserves in the state, warning illegal farmers and timber contractors to vacate the forest reserves immediately.
Popoola said the dwindling fortune in forestry sector in particular was caused by de-reservation and encroachment of gazetted forest reserves in the state.
He disclosed that the state government had resolved to embark on projects that would improve the sectors well-being, despite the meagre financial resources at the disposal of the government.
He said: “Without forest, we are all gone. Forest is about life and it makes living possible. No settlement can take place, if those who want to settle there do not have forest. The problem of deforestation is a global phenomenon, and that is why reclamation is going on in many parts of the world. We are in trouble in Nigeria because about ten percent of our land is only coveted by forest, when we needed about twenty five percent.
“People have destroyed our forests in Osun and we are ready to wage war, against illegal occupants of these reserves. It is a pity that these desecrated forests are internationally recognised. These forests have been gazetted as natural forests of importance.
However, he appealed to residents to desist from abusing and trespassing into forest reserves, saying that the implementation committee was considering facilitating workable forest policy and rejuvenate the whole process of forestry in the state.
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