The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) commemorated the International Day of Forests (IDF) in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Kwara State Ministry of Environment through two different events.
The IDF 2022 events with the theme “Forest and Sustainable Production and Consumption” were held at the Conference Room of the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture, the Secretariat, Alausa Ikeja, Lagos on Monday, March 21, 2022, and at Sity Inn, GRA Ilorin on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
The Monday event witnessed a speech presentation by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya; award presentation to the winners of Essay competition organised by the Ministry; and tree planting exercise within the Secretariat.
The Commissioner of Agriculture emphasised that it is against the law to cut any tree in Lagos State without getting the approval of the Directorate of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture. She enjoined the students to be agricpreneurs rather than pursuing white-collar job in the future. She urged members of the public to imbibe the culture of conservation.
She said: “We must map out strategies to mitigate the effect of our activities on the environment and maintain sustainable forest preservation vis-a-vis production in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 11,12 and 13.
“Vulnerable habitats like Lagos which has a population estimated to be over 22 million will undoubtedly face tremendous pressure exerted on the natural vegetation, especially in the area of housing and urbanisation, so there is need to embrace a conservatory approach to ameliorate the incidence of climatic change.
“We must guard against indiscriminate destruction of our forests as they are crucial to mitigating climate change and contributing to current and future generations’ stability and well-being. It is on this premise that we will be involving you, students, the future generation, henceforth, in the celebration of the International Day of Forests.”
In attendance at the Monday event were Dr. Oluwarotimi Fashola, Special Adviser to the Governor; Mrs. Tokunbo Emokpae, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture; Mr. Austin Hunpe, Director of Forestry; Ms. Folake Salawu, GRN Coordinator; Mr. Gbenga Adeyemi, CEO of Emadel Integrated Energy Services; Mr. Ganiu Amifowoshe, Dengel Anifowoshe Entreprises; and Mr. Bisan of Geyiba Agro Services, among others.
On Thursday, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Director General of NCF, represented by Dr. Joseph Onoja, Director of Technical Programmes of NCF, in his welcome address at the event in Ilorin, showed excitement about the hosting of the IDF 2022, the turnout of participants, and the key lead role played by the state government through its Ministry of Environment.
He said: “The Nigerian Conservation Foundation is happy with the partnership it has with the Kwara State Government. This is in commitment to the organisation’s drive to build partnership that will impact positively on the environment. Today, in the commemoration of the IDF, we use this opportunity to showcase the importance of forests in particular, and the environment in general, to the well-being of humans.
“The importance of forests cannot be overemphasised as they serve as sources of food, medicine, raw materials etc for humans and habitat for wildlife. It therefore behoves on all of us to take care of the environment especially sustainable utilisation of our forests.”
However, Abosede Olaitan Buraimoh, the Commissioner of Environment, Kwara State, in her statement shared that in addition to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all by the year 2030, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also advocate the need to efficiently manage our shared natural resources, encourage recycling and reducing waste.
She added: “It is, therefore, worthy of note that the fundamental purpose of celebrating the International Day of Forests is to let the people know about the importance of trees in our environment. The most critical phase from which the world is passing through now is a complexity in the form of climate change. The proportion of Ozone layer has shrunk to a threatening level while the only reason behind it is pollution because of human activities on earth.
“The International Day of Forests Celebration is also an attempt to demoralise the process of deforestation for the sake of urbanisation and modernisation. Let not the world ruin the beauty of this universe through deforestation. The inorganic and artificial sources of joy can bring a temporary smile but cannot be a source of permanent happiness and pleasure, as the forests are. Therefore, the aim of this annual event is to urge every individual to contribute on their part what he or she can to protect this planet.”
NCF donated 2,000 indigenous seedlings to the Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture to support the efforts of the Ministry in reforestation in line with its flagship Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) programme which aims to help increase forest cover in Nigeria from its current state of about 4-6% to 25% in 2047.
At the Ilorin event, students of Bishop Smith Memorial College and Ajoke Group of Schools made presentations on the need to protect the remaining forests and embrace sustainable living, less of dependency on the forest’s products. Mr. Solomon Adefolu made a presentation on “NCF: the journey so far”, highlighting the contributions of the foundation to re-greening the nation and combatting climate change impact.
The Ilorin, event tagged “Kwara State Stakeholders Forest Dialogue”, supported by Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), had in attendance from the Ministry of Environment, Pastor Abraham Kola Ojo, Permanent Secretary; Pastor Adeniran Adebara, Director, Personnel, Finance & Supply; and Alhaji Babatunde Idris Mahmud, Director of Forestry, among others.
Other agencies and organisations present were FADAMA; NESREA; National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation (NCAM); Forest Resources Management, University of Ilorin; Plant and Environmental Biology Department, Kwara State University; Plant Biology Department, Al-Hikmah University; Lower Niger River Basin; Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI); Kwara State Sawmill Association; and Kwara State Plank Dealers Association.
Organisation for the Sustenance of the Nigerian Forest; Agro-climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscape; Justice, Development and Peace Mission; Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI); Environmental Friends and Advocate for Sustainability (EFAS); and Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) also graced the occasion.