By Maudlyn Eduke
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri has said that an Executive bill to preserve forest reserves in the state will soon be sent to the state house of assembly for consideration and passage.
He said the new bill would repeal existing environmental laws that have become obsolete.
The Governor made this known in Yenagoa, at an event to celebrate the International Day of Forest with the theme”FOREST RESTORATION: A Path of Recovery and WeIIbeing”.
He said his administration cannot continue to talk about prosperity while a conscious effort of deforestation continues, adding that the bill when passed into law will address the situation.
“As a government of prosperity, we cannot preach prosperity when our forests are being attacked and degraded and there is every calculated attempt at deforestation in Bayelsa State.
“I hereby direct that an executive bill in consultation with the Ministry of Environment and all other civil society organisations that deals on forest be prepared and sent forth immediately to the Bayelsa State House of Assembly so that we can protect our forests.
“I want to assure all of us that the state government, and indeed the prosperity administration is determined and has the will to ensure and protect and preserve our forest reserves”.
He also said all commercial timber dealers should obtain permit from the Ministry of Environment before embarking on logging activities, saying it is all geared towards protecting the forests in the state.
The governor directed the Commissioner for Environment to revive the forest guards and deploy them to their various local government areas to ensure that the reserves are well protected.
He also granted the request by the Commissioner for Environment to adopt six proposed forest reserves in the state.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Iselema Gbaranbiri, explained that the International Day of Forests was declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.
He said, the state has six reserves namely the Taylor Creek, Edumanom, Apoi Creek, Nun River, Igbedi Creek and Ikebiri Creek Forest Reserves.
Coordinator of the Red Colobus Conservation Network, Miss Florence Aghomo from Cameroon, spoke on the need for Bayelsans to take forest preservation serious because of its socio-economic benefits.
In his remarks, Mr. Morris Alagoa of the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), commended the governor for hosting the event and appealed for the establishment of a zoological garden and community forest-driven management in the state.
Our correspondent reports that the governor was joined by his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, Cabinet members and members of the State Assembly to perform a ceremonial tree planting excercise.