Forest conservationists converge in Olokemeji for third reforestation plantathon

Forest conservationists converge in Olokemeji for third reforestation plantathon

The IITA Forest Center organized the third marathon tree planting (plantathon) at Olokemeji in June as part of the Olokemeji Reforestation Project. Representatives from project sponsor Nigerian Breweries Plc participated in the scheduled plantathon to reforest the degraded Olokemeji Forest reserve. They joined seasoned conservationists from the University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, Emerald Forest, and Waste Museum, Ibadan, in the tree planting exercise.

In his welcome remarks, IITA Forest Center Patron Dr David Ladipo spoke about research offering scientific data to ensure reforestation is done sustainably. He highlighted a mixed plantation as the proven model for re-creating a forest against monoculture or planting one kind of specie to reforest degraded forestlands. He lauded IITA Forest Center for adopting the mixed planting system for the reforestation of Olokemeji Forest Reserve.

Prof. Saka Jimoh, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, said, “Human needs are being addressed as we take care of biodiversity. We should also harness the cultural wealth of the indigenous residents of the land and incorporate their contributions into the planning of the restoration of Olokemeji Forest Reserve.”

In his response, Field Supervisor at IITA Forest Center Kunle Olasupo, said their contributions informed the choice of the species being replanted.

In a natural forest, different tree species are responsible for the biodiversity of flora and fauna in the wild. Ladipo said, “With the mixed plantation system adopted by IITA Forest Center, trees can mix the way they are in nature. Meaning we can mimic a natural forest system.” He went further to say, “When we have mixed tree species in a reforested area, the wild animals will come. Birds, who are good pollinating agents, will return too because certain species prefer certain trees to feed on or shelter in. In another ten years, people will consider this reforested area a natural forest.”

Tree species planted include Terminalia superba, Tamarindus indica, Erythrophleum suaveolens, Cola gigantea, Tetraplura tetraphera, and Treculia africana.

Annabelle Umoetuk, Sustainability & CSR Manager at Nigerian Breweries PLC, said, “This reforestation project helps protect the watershed and balance the water we use in production in our four breweries situated in South-West Nigeria—Lagos, Ibadan, Ota, and Ijebu-ode breweries. These breweries sit in the Ogun-Osun river basin, a severely water-stressed region.”

Ladipo applauded IITA for keeping the Forest Center alive since its inception and for continuing the excellent work of planting trees for ecosystem restoration. He said, “IITA Forest Center is a three-tier forest and a haven for birds.” Birds from Switzerland, Poland, and Russia come to IITA Forest to take refuge there.

Contributed by Folake Oduntan