19 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – Unless urgent steps are taken to check the upsurge in illegal logging in Bayelsa, the state rich forest reserves may be depleted in no distant time.
No fewer than 10 truck load of logs are daily being moved out of the state around the Sagbama and Zarama forest, off the East-West road.
The business is also booming in the hinterland where illegal loggers are arbitrarily depleting the forest reserves without replacing same.
A concerned Governor Seriake Dickson had sometime in August decried illegal logging in the state saying government would no longer fold its arm and watch its rich forest reserves being destroyed.
He described the forest and its many resources as potential sources of revenue for the state that must be protected at all times, especially at a time when government is trying to harness the tourism potentials of the state to attract tourists from within and outside the country.
“As a government with a clear vision to restore the lost glory of our state, we will also initiate a legislation to make unauthorized exploitation and logging activities in forests across the state illegal and punishable by law,” he said.
The forest, according to the governor, has become a major foreign exchange earner for many countries in East Africa, Asia and Latin America adding that the forests in the state have similar characteristics with the ones in these other parts of the world.
Although the governor had warned all those involved in the unwholesome act to desist forthwith or be treated as economic saboteurs and criminals, illegal logging is still a thriving business in the predominantly riverine state with government officials turning a blind eye to the perpetrators.
An environmentalist, Thomas Dadiowei however stressed the need for an aggressive enlightenment campaign in the communities to galvanize the traditional rulers, community leaders and youth bodies to help protect and preserve the forests from the illegal loggers.
He also called on the government to engage forest guards so as to put the illegal loggers to flight noting with concern that the level of exploitation of the forest was unacceptable.