In March 2021, the Nigerian Breweries Plc awarded the restoration of an area (about 600 ha) of Olokemeji Forest Reserve to the IITA Forest Center, with the Ogun State Government as an implementing partner. The Olokemeji Forest Reserve (7°40ʹ N, 3°50ʹ; 115 m a.s.l.), covering about 5,900 ha and located between two mega-cities in Nigeria, Abeokuta and Ibadan, is one of the largest forest reserves in southwest Africa. The Forest Reserve is managed by the Ogun State Government, but highly degraded due to unsustainable exploitation and farming practices.
As both public and private agencies across the world renew their commitment to reducing our carbon emissions and protecting our planet, this reforestation project proves even more welcoming. IITA Forest Center would contribute its expertise in implementation, management, and training on biodiversity conservation. The Nigerian Breweries, its resources to reforest the Olokemeji Forest Reserve. And the Ogun State Government will deliver on its promise to improve live and livelihoods of its people. The Olokemeji Reforestation Project is a corporate social responsibility of the Nigerian Breweries Plc to give back to the surrounding communities where they get their most important resource for production – water.
The current restoration work involves the use of community-based conservation approach in two phases of five years each. The local communities hosting the forest reserve and other stakeholders therefore actively drive the project. The reforestation activity involves the use of only native tree species that are adapted to the soils and climate of the area. Schoolchildren, who are members of School Conservation Clubs established in the area, will be actively engaged in project activities. This and other sensitization activities will promote environmental education and conservation in the area. Other project activities aim to empower rural households. More than 80% of project staff are currently employed from the surrounding communities while other rural households will be trained in alternative ventures to enhance income generation through bee-keeping, vegetable propagation, compost production, and herbal gardens.
This tripartite public-private partnership involving IITA Forest Center, Nigerian Breweries Plc, and Ogun State Ministry of Forestry will restore degraded areas of the Olokemeji Forest Reserve (OFR), and further sensitize rural communities around the OFR on biodiversity conservation and forest protection. In line with Nigerian Breweries’ sustainability agenda termed “Brew A Better World”, this project will restore healthy watersheds in four identified water-stressed areas in Nigeria: Ibadan, Ijebu-ode, Lagos and Ota. In addition, the project will support healthy living and lifestyles, mitigate climate change, curb soil erosion, restore lost flora and fauna, and promote sustainable development.