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Herdsmen operating in forest is illegal, says forestry association

The Forestry Association of Nigeria, Ogun State Chapter has declared that, herdsmen have no business in the forest, adding that the decision of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to send them packing was in order.

Penpushing reports that, Chairman of the association, Dr Kayode Ogunjobi made this clear in a statement, explaining that a forest reserve is a protected area, such that nothing enters or leaves without the knowledge of the relevant authority

‘The unwarranted controversy surrounding the pronouncement of the Governor of Ondo State on the presence of herdsmen in forest reserves is unfortunate. It must be noted that the emphasis was on forest reserves’.

‘It appears that there is lack of adequate knowledge of what a forest reserve is or deliberate misinformation otherwise the pronouncement of the Governor of Ondo State, Ogbeni Akeredolu ought not to have generated a single dust. Most unfortunately, it has found a vantage place in the media with various opinions’, Ogunjobi said.

‘Primarily, herdsmen have no business being in a forest reserve. A forest reserve is a protected area such that nothing enters or leaves without the knowledge of the relevant ministry. Leaving out the issues of criminality such as kidnapping, politics and others, herdsmen have no business in a forest reserve’.

Penpushing further reports that, the association pointed out that, the presence of the herdsmen in the reserves in the first instance is an aberration and that it has been allowed for long does not make it right.

‘It is unfortunate that while other countries are making concerted efforts to protect their forests spending heavily, we are at the brink of institutionalizing illegality on the altar of primordial sentiments’.

‘Forest reserves are protected areas for trees and wild animals while ranches are for cattle. Rather than castigating the Governor, he should be commended for the initiative and boldness to correct an anomaly’, he stated.

The body expressed worry that forest guards have now become toothless barking dogs in Nigeria, stressing that the protection of forests from intruders remained the responsibility of the guards.

‘It is unfortunate that forest guards are no longer feared just as the Nigeria Police. The protection of the forest from intruders is the responsibility of the forest guards and anyone found in any forest reserve without the approval of the forest guard violates the law of the land as he is an illegal entrant or dweller. Furthermore, the presence of the cows within a forest reserve constitute threat to the ecological, integrity of the forest reserve’.

‘It simply follows that no reforestation program can take place in the reserve despite continuous harvesting of trees as the animals will trample on the trees and kill them’, the association chairman said.

‘Rather than insinuating ethnic sentiments and playing politics with the truth, we should rise up in one voice to condemn the presence of any herdsman of any extraction in any of our reserves. A Yoruba herdsman in a forest reserve is as inimical as a Fulani herdsman. A forest reserve is not for grazing!

Penpushing also reports that, the association declared that, in clear terms, the presence of herdsmen in any forest reserve regardless of their ethnic extraction is illegal and condemnable, stressing that, the sanctity of our forest reserves must be protected

‘The Government should begin to look for lands far from agricultural lands and forest estates where and allocate to herdsmen as grazing sites. We cannot be talking of improving the forest cover while destroying the existing vegetation. We cannot be taking two steps forward and six steps backward’, Ogunjobi posited

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