By Jonathan Ugbal
An environmentalist, Mr. Santos Odey has called on the Cross River State government to act fast in the regeneration of the depleted forest reserve that surrounded the Lugard wall.
The Lugard wall was a physical boundary that separated the northern and southern protectorates and serves as boundary between present day Cross River and Benue States.
A forest reserve which served as a buffer zone stretching over tens of kilometers to the boundary between Cross River and Ebonyi States has been logged out and threatens peace between communities in both states as reported by CrossRiverWatch.
And, in an exclusive interview with this reporter, Mr. Odey, a veteran environmentalist said the depletion of the forest is a minus to Cross River State as it was once a thing of pride.
“It is a minus to the Cross River State government if that place has been logged out because from records that used to be the pride of the north and the east. So if government allows that place to be logged out, that is a minus to us,” Mr. Odey said.
He continued: “It is a very big challenge and something needs to be done and done urgently most especially as we are into the raining season now. Establish a nursery there, get people engaged and do the regeneration (but the) choice of specie is very important.”
He went further to explain how the reserve can be regenerated.
Mr. Odey described nature as “unique” pointing out that the way God loved Adam and Eve as stated in the book of Genesis, and kept them in a garden, it was evident that man must “endeavor as much as possible to protect it.”
He averred that: “If you want to go into regeneration, first you establish a nursery at that location and the choice of specie you want to plant. Of course the land will tell you the choice of specie and the object of management.”
He blamed the continuous depletion of forest reserves on the rising rate of unemployment and called out forest guards whom he accused of negligence.
“Unemployment leads some people to go and take what they are not supposed to. Government should engage people meaningfully,” said Mr. Odey.
On the forest guards, he averred that: “We have a forestry department, we have the uniform people, we call them forest guards. These forest guards, their main objective is to protect the forest. Forests can only be depleted or logged out when the forest guards are not productive. They are civil servants, if there is any damage, they should be held responsible.”
Recall that CrossRiverWatch had reported that natives of Ewor Alifokpa in Yache community of Yala local government area in Cross River as well as their neighbors in Konshisha local government area of Benue state and a staff of the forestry department had fingered a forest officer who allegedly sold out parcels of land in the Lugard wall forest reserve to people leading to massive depletion.
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