Posted by By Olamilekan Lartey, Benin on
Shell Petroleum Development Company has earmarked N131million for the conservation of the Gele-Gele and Urhonigbe forest reserves in Edo State....
Shell Petroleum Development Company has earmarked N131million for the conservation of the Gele-Gele and Urhonigbe forest reserves in Edo State.
SPDC Managing Director and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Basil Omiyi, said this at the signing of agreement on biodiversity action plans for the forest reserves between the firm and the Edo State Government and the communities in the forest zone.
Omiyi said the company had already spent N20million and would spend another N131 million over the next two years.
He said Shell was neither acquiring nor leasing land for conservation or exploitation using the initiative as a pretext.
He stressed that no compensation would be paid in respect of the conservation plans.
“Although Shell has a foot print in Gele-Gele, we have never produced oil there and do not plan to do so in the near future. Apart from the 64-hectare strict nature reserve, which itself has been degraded, the rest of Urhonigbe forest reserve is now farmland,” he said.
He said his firm’s aim was to provide the means for the sustainable conservation in the areas with the incidental benefit of community development and to encourage stewardship in a positive way.
“Because we work in the extractive industry, we believe it is time for us to put something back to the environment,” he said.
He added that the SPDC and other partners in the project would not be drawn into existing or future land disputes, litigations or threats.
He therefore appealed to the government to make this clear to all the communities.
He noted specifically that communities that cooperated with the success of such conservation plans would get further help from the international community.
He said the forests could absorb some of the carbon dioxide that was responsible for global warming.
Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, who signed on behalf of the state, said a successful management of the state’s forest resources was the route to poverty alleviation in many rural communities.
He, therefore, appealed to the host communities not frustrate the project with land disputes and agitations.
He also declared logging in the forest illegal.
The representative of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, the NGO that will oversee the project, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, said there was need for action to preserve the fast depleting forests before it was too late
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