Professor Labode Popoola is the President, Forestry Association of Nigeria (FAN), President, West African Research and Innovation Management Association and Co-Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Nigeria (NSDSN). Â In this online interview with Kayode Aboyeji, he spoke on the challenges of forest management in Nigeria; the long gestation period of the enterprise and the advantages of establishing a forest plantation.
Â Can I meet you?
Â I am Labo Popoola, a Professor of Forest Economics and Sustainable Development at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Â Where exactly is Labo plantation located?
The plantation is part of a farmland that I operate at Olowosoke village, Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo State.
Â The size and the type of trees planted?
The total size of the plantation is 13 acres (approximately 5.2 hectares) of Tectona grandis (Teak). It forms part of my original 50 acre integrated farm enterprise comprising arable crops, oil palm and livestock.
Any water resources (River, stream) close to the plantation?
Yes, there is a seasonal stream at the western end of the farm
Â What informed the idea of establishing the plantation?
I enjoy farming, and I am a trained forester. I have helped individuals and corporate organizations to raise plantations, and I just felt that I should also lead by practical example, hence my decision to establish the plantation as part of my farming enterprise
How do you finance it?
It is a self financed enterprise. No external financing yet.
Â When was it established?
2011, and it is about six years old now.
Â What are the future plans?
Together with some friends, we now have a total holding of about 150 acres. We desire to extend the plantation, particularly using trees to secure the boundary of our land.
What is your view about forest management in Nigeria?
The forest sector is beset with quite a number of challenges in Nigeria. Key among these is paucity of data for proper management, obsolete policies and laws, poor financing and corruption. The characteristics of the resource as a long gestation enterprise may also pose some challenge.
Also critical are ownership of resources, including policies and legislation that define ownership, the social and economic conditions of the owners and more importantly their entrepreneurial ability (including the ability to understand the changing opportunities and to move up the value chain); and the nature of markets served. These interact with each other, altering the opportunities and constraints in capturing the different values from the forests. Also, there are virtually no incentive structures for private forestry. Regardless, individuals and corporate organizations are increasingly embarking on private forestry.
Â Â Has the plantation resulted in biodiversity protection?
Within six years of establishment, the plantation is already closing canopy. We now have a number of wild animals inhabiting the area. We are also considering embarking on apiary in the plantation.
There are so many advantages in forest plantation establishment. Broadly, the benefits are socio-economic, cultural, environmental and even spiritual. With the dwindling resources in the public sector, private forestry becomes an imperative. It is therefore important that governments at all tiers should create incentive structures that will encourage the involvement of the private sector to enhance sustainable forest management.