Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), an agency of the United Nations, has warned that soon, indiscriminate cutting of trees by sawmillers and bush burning among others, if not checked, could lead to communities losing their forest reserves to deforestation.

The agency said Nigeria has the highest rate of deforestation in the world. It stressed that between 1990 and 2000, Nigeria lost an average of 409,700 hectares of forest at an annual deforestation rate of 2.38 percent.

This disclosure was made at the opening of a four-day workshop entitled Enhancing Effective Management of Osasimwonba Forest Reserve By Community Women organized by Community Research and Development Centre, Benin, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Foundation.

Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, in his speech at the occasion, said that urgent steps were being taken by the government to prevent a total disappearance of the country’s forest.

He listed some of the steps to include the annual tree planting campaign by the state government and sensitization programmes on forest management.

Odion described the workshop as apt “because women in the rural areas use more natural resources and conservation than men.

—Isaac Olamilekan/Benin