REPORT OF ONE DAY ECO STUDY TOUR TO COMMEMORATE WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY HELD ON 5TH JUNE, 2015 AT AFE EMERALD FOREST RESERVE AWORIN, IKOYI-OSUN, OSUN STATE.
The World Environment Day is the United Nation`s principal vehicle for raising awareness worldwide and to mobilize individual actions into collective power to preserve and care for the earth. Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) in partnership with Abayami Farm Estate as advocates for sustainable development joined the global community in commemorating this year’s celebration on the theme “ SEVEN BILLION DREAMS, ONE PLANET, CONSUME WITH CARE”
Centre for 21st Century Issues (C21st) in partnership with Abayomi Farm Estate (AFE) celebrated 2015 World Environment Day (WED 2015) by conducting an eco-study tour of AFE Emerald Forest Reserve, a private Forest Reserve owned by AFE, situate at Abayomi Farm Settlement, Aworin, Ikoyi-Osun, Osun State on Friday, 5th June 2015.
The program which started at about 9:00am had in attendance a total number of 28 participants comprising of 10 females and 18 males drawn from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Abayomi Farm Estate settlement, Civil society Organizations (CSOs), Media and students.
The opening session was anchored by Mr Francis Anyaegbu of Farm Allure. Prof Abayomi the host and the Director of Abayomi Farm Estate declared the occasion opened by the breaking of kola nut which was produced on the AFE organic farm. Prof Abayomi gave a brief introduction of AFE Emerald Forest, a private forest reserve, owned by Abayomi Farm Estate company. The AFE Emerald forest was acquired by AFE about 12 years ago. It is a 300 acre pristine forest conservatory on the banks of the great Osun River. It is situate on the confluence of the Aworin Osun and Akinrin streams that flow into the Osun River. It is nestled between rocky Mountains with riverside forests that support the echo habitat of the Osun River.
The major reason behind the establishment of the forest reserve is to develop a nature reserve were plants do not go extinct and also to create an environment where one could eat fresh, natural organic food without any form of pollution.
He further advised all present to have regards for nature because the way we treat nature is the same way nature will treat us. Nature does not need us, we need nature and if we decimate and desecrate our environment, we will deprive ourselves of clean, pure water, fresh air and other free gifts of nature. He also said there is need to educate the youths to consume with care because there is enough food produce to feed everybody but a lot of this produce goes to waste instead of it going to those who really need it.
Titilope Akosa the Executive Director (ED) of C21st threw more light on WED and what it is all about. She said half of the problems we have in the world are as a result of selfishness and greed. How can the 7 billion people that currently exist on earth live and exit the earth in a friendly manner so that generations unborn can also inherit and enjoy the earth. She said each person should try and make the earth habitable and free of pollutants by reducing their carbon footprint, discourage deforestation and depletion of the earth resources, and also we should make use of the 3Rs which are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle to minimize waste.
On Climate smart Agriculture, Titilola Kazeem the programme officer for C21st gave the presentation. She advised participants to always consider the environment in whatever they do and they should desist from wasting food. She informed participants about the impacts of climate change on agriculture.
Prof Abayomi added to the presentation that soil has life and the life of the soil should always be protected by using organic fertilizer instead of inorganic fertilizers that often kills the microbes in the soil. He said further that soil needs to be allowed to rest for a while to replenish itself. Once the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is accepted, the use of pesticides and fertilizers becomes inevitable.
PANEL DISCUSSION WITH UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN FOREST RESOURCES MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT ON SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
After the opening presentation another session was constituted with the team from University of Ibadan led by the Head of Department (HOD) Professor Agbeja. The professor gave a brief on the collaboration between AFE and the university with respect to the practical training of students from the department at the reserve. The Department of forest Resources Management of University of Ibadan is the flagship of forest resources management in Africa and has been able to identify AFE Emerald forest reserve as a unique reserve which conserves various tree species, shrubs, herbs and biodiversity which is of scientific value. According to Professor Agbeja, the department is going to collaborate with AFE to preserve the forest, label all the plants and raise awareness with the local community around the reserve on the importance of protecting the reserve.
Other lecturers from the Department Dr. Mrs Adebola Adegeye and Professor Kayode Ogunsanwo spoke about the importance of collaborative effort between the Federal, State and Local Government in preserving forest and nurturing trees. They emphasized the passing of the National forestry Bill into Law in Nigeria. This bill will help to apprehend those who are into illegal logging of trees and ensure forests are preserved for generations unborn. They also discuss the issue of sustainable use of forest products such as continuous tree planting and that when trees are felled they should not be burnt in order to preserve the Carbon Dioxide stored in them.
The Executive Director of C21st in her contribution to the discussion gave insight on how the National Forestry Bill can be passed into Law in the current dispensation. She advised that the bill should be reviewed to accommodate new issues that have emerged over time. She provided information about the Global Environment Facility (GCF) Fund and how the reserve can benefit from the funds. A collaborative proposal initiative between AFE, C21st and the Department should be explored to protect, preserve and sustain the reserve as a natural secondary forest.
The importance of engaging with Local and indigenous communities was also emphasized. Local and indigenous knowledge and experience in forest conservation is very important and this can be harnessed from local people in the communities. There is need to tap into the repertoire of indigenous knowledge in order to get the best approach to preserve forests.
After the presentations participants were given opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Some of the questions raised borders on enforcement of extant forest preservation laws, advocacy on use of organic fertilizers, banning the use of GMOs in Nigeria, and engaging government on the need for the passage of National Forestry Bill.
It was agreed that there is need for continuous advocacy on all the issues raised and participants should see themselves as agents of change to spread the gospel of sustainable consumption and forest preservation for the benefit of humanity.
TOUR OF THE RESERVE
After the training session all participants embarked on a tour of the reserve. The lecturers from University of Ibadan explained to the best of their knowledge the scientific names and medicinal value or importance of the various plants. Pictures of plants and sites of the reserve were taken and messages from participants to the world on the WED were recorded to be shared on social media.
DYE and BATIK SESSION
After the tour, a session of the dye making was anchored by Friday Dennis Okhiria who explained how different type of traditional indigenous Dyeing techniques that can be used. Trainings on the different Batik, Tie and Dye can be facilitated for organizations in collaboration with AFE.
Participants concluded that it was an exciting program and that there is need for increased awareness on sustainable use and consumption in Nigeria. It was agreed that a communiqué should be issued on the discussions, recommendations and conclusions from the program. The proceedings of the program should be published on the United Nations Environment Program website. The program ended at about 4pm with vote of thanks from Professor Akin Abayomi and Ms Titilope Akosa.