BENIN CITY – Worried over an endangered environment and biological diversity, host communities of the Okomu Oil Palm Plc have been enjoined to practice and imbibe conservation values for the protection of green areas, wild life, river life and other water bodies.
The Managing Director of the company, Dr. Graham Hefer gave the charge Wednesday at a one-day sensitization programme on the Roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) during which all its host communities were invited. He explained that the company had entered into a form of partnership with the communities over the years for sustainable mutual relationship for which the company had reciprocated through the award of bursaries and scholarship assistance to children of host communities and also providing a platform for skills acquisition for children from the communities.
Dr. Hefer announced that Orhua in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State had consented to join in the partnership with other communities for a beneficial mutual relationship, adding that the community had previously not participated in engagements held with other communities.
Our communities take our partnership very seriously, we are very happy that they came today. We have been doing this for the last four or five years and the turn out has always been high. We are happy to see that it is growing,” he stated.
On the challenges facing the palm oil sector, he said that the company was worried by illegal importation of the product into the country but expressed hope that such problems would be overcome.
In a presentation geared towards highlighting the dangers of environ1ental degradation and to imbibe conservation values, the communities were given six levels of conservation platforms to direct their attitude towards positive protection of the environment.
They are concentrations of biological diversity including endemic species that are threatened or endangered species that are significant at global, regional or national levels which example include the white throated monkey.
It also include large landscape level ecosystems and ecosystems mosaics that are significant at global, regional or national levels which contain viable populations of the great majority of the naturally occurring species in natural patterns of distribution and abundance and include national parks and forest reserves.
They were also enjoined to watch out for rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems habitats such as swamps or odighi as it is known in Benin language, which of critical importance are protection and control of water and erosion, among others.
Highlight of the training workshop for the communities on RSPO is the award of bursaries assistance to 40 students of host communities at N90, 000 per student until they graduate from higher institutions of learning being therefore, a yearly exercise.