Niger State Government has commenced massive reforestation programme in a deliberate effort to reclaim virtually all its Forest Reserves that have been degraded by both human and natural activities in the state.

Addressing Journalists at the post-Exco Media briefing held at Government House, Minna, the state Commissioner for Environment and Forestry said 160 hectares of the degraded forest reserves have been reclaimed while hoping to reach 200 hectares before the end of the year.

Represented by Engr. Lucky Barau, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, the Commissioner disclosed that this state government has, so far, raised close to a million hybrid seedlings that will be planted on its Forest reserves across the state in order to reverse the trend of deforestation.

He said the afforestation programme has concentrated, for now, on the state’s forest reserves in those areas with no security concerns stressing that government has evolved new strategy to involve host communities to take ownership of the ‘catchment Forest Reserves’.

“Government will allow farmers to utilize the reserves and will also be enlightened on how to do so without necessarily destroying the forest and or destabilizing the ecosystem. Where it becomes expedient to take out some trees, we are providing seedlings to individuals and organizations to replace them”, he said.

The Commissioner also disclosed that a 20 hectares Shea Park Land is to be established by the state government at Beji, in Bosso Local Government Area of the state, as a pilot project to promote massive planting and cultivation of economic trees such as Palm and Sheanut.

While justifying the need for the government’s aggressive reforestation programme amidst security concerns, the commissioner explained that natural and human activities have had negative, consequential effect on the climate globally and are partly responsible for dwindling rainfalls, deforestation, desert encroachment and famine.

“Rather than destroy the forests entirely because of insecurity as is been proposed by some people, it is better to strike a balance because the trees are most relevant to the human survival and destroying them may ultimately lead to famine, hunger and starvation”, he added.