By Rashidat Okunlade

The NNPC Exploration and Production Ltd/Seplat Energy Joint Venture and the Edo State Government have signed an agreement that will see the state government allocate 6,000 hectares of land from its protected forest reserves to enable a large-scale tree planting initiative by Seplat Energy Plc.

This is in furtherance to the Seplat Tree4Life Initiative and the Edo State Government’s identification of the need to increase forest cover and carbon sequestration efforts within the region.

Seplat Energy has been selected as the partner to implement this reforestation project, which aims to plant millions of indigenous trees on the allocated land over the next five (5) years. This project represents a significant investment in environmental conservation and sustainable development for the state.

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony, which happened in Edo State Government House, the Managing Director, Seplat West Limited, Seplat Energy, Ayodele Olatunde, said the partnership will contribute in the global efforts around mitigating the effects of climate change, whilst providing economic, social, health and other environmental benefits to the region.

“This will stir more advocacy as far as climate change is concerned and put the Edo State Government with the Seplat JV on the map as change agents. The partnership is well aligned with our Tree4Life Initiative and has the capacity to boost our economy and the environment; advance our soil health and drive carbon capture; preserve our ecosystem; enhance biodiversity; create jobs; conserve our forests; and promote physical and mental wellbeing of our people,” Olatunde said.

The Commissioner for Environment & Sustainability, Edo State, Joshua Omokhodion, said the synergy between Edo State and the Seplat JV is a huge attempt at mitigating the impacts of climate change in Nigeria. “Beyond the economics of this move, the science of it is very important to us because it is an attempt to deliberately create an ambience that will be conducive for humans and other creatures here.”

The Director, External Affairs & Social Performance, Seplat Energy, Chioma Afe, in her address, thanked the Edo State Government for partnering with the NEPL/Seplat JV on this sustainable journey of reforestation.  She said: “This will drive forward our shared goals of environmental conservation and sustainable land use.

“These 6,000 hectares of land being allocated today, we believe, will provide a major boost to efforts at increasing tree cover and also to sequester carbon in our region. We believe also that this will not only tackle climate change, but will promote the local economy as well as local wildlife. The agreement demonstrates the NEPL/Seplat JV strong commitment to supporting impactful environmental projects.

The Managing Director, NEPL, Nicolas Foucart, represented by Mr. Uzoma Ezulu, DM Operations Management Seplat, NEPL, said the partnership between the state government and NEPL/Seplat JV is a laudable response to the global warming crisis. “The world is turning around for the worst; human activities in the name of development have done more harm than good to the environment. The Tree4Life project, therefore, is a conservative effort for all of us,” he said. Teasoo Consulting Limited was also among the facilitators of the agreement signing ceremony.

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