Open Letter Urging Governor's Action: Celebrating International Day of Forests and Preserving Our Natural Heritage"

 Today 21st of March 2024, the rest of the world is celebrating International Day of Forests (IDF). This is a day set aside by a proclamation made in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly in an effort to celebrate and raise awareness for the importance of all types of forests.


Countries across the world are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns on days like this to celebrate its significance in combating climate change.


Unfortunately, Oyo State Government recently embarked on the conversion of parks and gardens to residential housing estates for the elite without adherence or compliance with global policies and ideals. This anomaly climaxed in December when it was first reported that age long trees as wide as 900mm radius were being felled by the Oyo State Government within the Ogunpa Forest Reserve otherwise known as AgodiParks and Gardens.


Even if the Oyo State Government planted a million trees tomorrow to replace the mature trees that have been cut down and sold, they cannot perform their functions of carbon absorption, water purification, cloud formation and atmospheric cooling until they are at least 50 years old. Neither will they be able to catch and divert rainfall to our precious underground reservoirs nor hold the soil against erosion when the rains start.


From various forms of harassment of peaceful protesters to a media parley that failed to address pivotal issues related to the environmental impact of the decision of the state government to go ahead with the conversion of a pristine forest into a concrete jungle. It is not surprising that neither stakeholder engagements nor aggressive tree planting if only for image making is being undertaken by the government.


Over the last couple of days, it was reported that large trees continue to give way for the newly proposed estatesituated within the perimeter of AgodiGardens, watershed and adjoining forest reserves. The theme for the International Day of Forests 2024 is Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World. It is against this back drop that I use this platform to make an honest appeal to His Excellency Governor SeyiMakinde to seek collaborative Partnership on Forests as the ongoing battle against the massive deforestation currently being embarked upon requires new technological advancements to combat it.


We have been bending over backwards to combat climate change in a way that reflects either an utter ignorance of the treat it poses to our collective well-beingecosystem services and environment or just strict deference to global warming campaigns, policies and agenda of the United Nations. Cutting down old-growth trees previously standing guard over the Ogunpa River Watershed in the carbon sink forest surrounding Agodi Gardens will have implications in the near future and it is important that we do not only continue to draw this awareness but also raise the gavel in lieu of itsenvironmental impacts.


The rains will definitely come, AgodiLake will overflow its banks like it has perennially done. With its carbon sink decimated, will the existing OgunpaChannelization accommodate theintensified runoff that Baywood Estate will generate? However, it should be known that the Ogunpa Channelization program was aimed at preventing flooding due to dumping of waste in our waterways and did not foresee the unlikely event of massive deforestation of its watershed. This is a disaster waiting to happen and it will be on record that environmental concerns were swept under the carpet by the government. 


As the Oyo State Government continues the extensive destruction of this old forests in the Agodi Gardens, let it be known that concerned citizens spoke their mind and lent their voices to this global concern. "Oro to ba ti k’oja ekun, Erin la fii rin" - Any matter beyond tears, we laugh it out!!! 


May your administration succeed.


Idris Animasaun

Architect and Social Change Advocate

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