By; RALOH OKHIRIA, Benin City
Edo State Government has suspended the exploitation of forest resources within and outside forest reserves in the state, even as licences for tree logging in the state expired since June 30.
In a statement, the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Omoua Alonge Oni-Okpaku, noted, “timber licensees, saw-millers and timber contractors are hereby informed that all permits to exploit forest produce within and outside forest reserves expired on June 30, 2018.”
She explained that “In view of the above, all forms of forest exploitation and logging activities within the forest reserves and ‘free areas’ of the state are hereby suspended with immediate effect.”
The suspension of the activities, according to her, is in line with “Section 41 (1) (2) and 44 (1) and (2) of the Forestry Law.”
The commissioner said further development relating to the expiration of permits and suspension of forest exploitation would be communicated to the concerned stakeholders on a subsequent date.
Recall that the state government shut down burrow pits in the state recently, citing threat to the integrity of the environment, danger of flash floods and the need to avoid health hazards.
The government announced the shutdown on August 2, noting that the move became necessary in order not to predispose the state to environmental hazards.
In a statement, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability said, “for the information of the general public and in particular, the owners and operators of burrow pits, haulage operators, tipper drivers and other stakeholders, that all operations of burrow pits are shut down with effect from Thursday 2nd August 2018.”
She added that the directive is to enable the state government “re-evaluate and re-certify the sites to ensure that they do not constitute hazards and environmental degradation,” and urged owners and operators of the pits to report to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability for re-certification and subsequent inspection of their sites.