UK Govt to assist Edo, Okomu Oil in forest preservation   

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By Kevin Okunzuwa

The Government of the United Kingdom has expressed its readiness to support Edo Government and Management of Okomu Oil Palm Company in their efforts to preserve forest reserves in the state.

Ms Martine Sobey, Head of Climate Change and Energy at the UK Embassy, Nigeria, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of her team’s tour of the Okomu Oil Palm Company on Tuesday.

Sobey is the Head of UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office(FCDO)Nigeria, Climate and Energy, in Abuja.

NAN reports that FCDO, Nigeria, is responsible for managing the British Government’s contributions to development, diplomacy and defence in Nigeria.

Its objective is to support sub-national governments and collaborate with development partners at federal and state levels to reduce effects of climate change.

Sobey told NAN that the UK Government was impressed with both Edo Government and Okomu Oil Palm Company’s effort at ensuring that the forest reserves in the state are being protected from violation.

“It’s a privilege for me and others from the British High Commission to visit the company.

” Our objectives are multiple. But first is to understand some of the challenges and the opportunities for preserving forest in Edo.

“That is critical for biodiversity, the people, communities and providing vibrant forest economy.

“We are ready to deepen our understanding of those issues of the company and challenges that the state government faces here.

“The programme is about encouraging market-led approaches to develop agric-business that delivers climate and nature outcomes.

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“They are looking at opportunities in Edo including all those conversations we have had, to have a rich understanding of what is needed to shape the programme.

“So far, what we have heard is enriching to see that the company works so closely with a visionary CSO, African Nature Investors(ANI), who is doing a fantastic work on both the reserves and national park.

“For me, it’s been rewarding. It feels me with adequate optimism about the future of Edo,” she said.


Sobey noted that her organisation had continued to support Edo government including helping it with the reconstitution of its forest commission.


“This is really important at the state level because we know that forest is critical for climate change mitigation and also for adaptation perspective.


“And it goes alongside our own work at the Federal Government level where we were critical in providing the climate change Act which Nigeria introduced in 2021.


“That still has critical bearing at the local level where the climate change is still being fought by the communities,”she said.


Mr Tunde Morakinyo, Executive Director of ANI, told NAN that the organisation is focused on the protection of Africa’s wide animals and wide spaces.


“We are here in Benin because we have a mandate from the federal government to protect the national park.


‘We have also signed an agreement with Edo government to protect and develop Okomu Forest and the Gelegele Forest reserves.


“Am glad to report that activities of illegal poaching and felling of logs have reduced while several arrests and seizures have been made since our arrival.

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“But the only challenge is the delay in the prosecution of forest crime offenders. We are trying to also train judiciary officials on this aspect,” he said.


The Managing Director, Okomu Oil Palm Company, Dr Graham Hefer, expressed gratitude for the visit, saying the company would continue to carry out its operations under the best standard practices.(NAN)(

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