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Monday, June 24, 2024

South-East states embark on massive afforestation to curb biodiversity loss

States in the South-South have embarked on various tree planting programmes aimed at afforestation of the geo-political zone in order to combat desertification and global warming.

Charles Udoh
Mr Charles Udoh, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals

The Edo State Government says it plans to plant 10 million trees within the next 10 years under its afforestation programme.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability, Mr Lucky Wasa, disclosed this in an interview in Benin City, the state capital.

Wasa said that the exercise, which was aimed at restoring the state’s forest reserves, would see to the planting of a million trees every year.

Similarly, the Delta State Government has a plan to plant one million trees over a period of five years in an effort to revamp its degraded forest reserves.

Mr. Chukwuma Nwose, Director, Conservation Department, Ministry of Environment, said in Asaba, the state capital, that the ministry had sent a memo to the state government with a projection to plant one million trees over a period of five years.

Nwose said though the state government had yet to key into the Federal Government’s afforestation programme, it nonetheless had, over the past four years, engaged in tree planting.

“We are aware of the Federal Government’s afforestation programme. Although we have yet to key into the plan, on our own, we have been planting trees.

“The Delta government has since 2017 engaged in a tree planting exercise under the Fuelwood Management Programme (FMP) in Nigeria.

“The FMP programme is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-sponsored initiative, in collaboration with the Delta government.

“So far, we have planted approximately 100,000 trees of different species, mainly Tectona grandis (Teak) and Gmeli.

“The exercise in Delta has covered 100 hectres of land spread across selected communities,” he said.

The Akwa Ibom State Government has also planted no fewer than 16,000 tree seedlings to tackle deforestation in the state, according to Mr Charles Udoh, the Commissioner for Environment and Solid Minerals.

“The state government through the Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals has planted 16,000 seedlings of different species of trees in forestry reserves across the state,” Udoh said.

The commissioner said the state government was greatly committed to rejuvenating the environment.

According to him, the move would not only ensure wind and pest control, but also beautify the state.

Udoh said that the state government had a target of N36 million as revenue from forestry in 2021.

“We have never contributed any revenue from forestry but I can tell you clearly that we will be earning nothing less than N36 million from forestry proceeds by the end of year,” he said.

The commissioner however explained that Akwa Ibom was not a desert prone area, but a mangrove swamp and added that the only threat in the state was swamp and water.

He said that the ministry had been been evolving a new initiative in the last nine months to ensure that the environment was protected.

“The impact of tree felling is the reason why we have continued to appeal to the people to embrace the state government’s efforts to protect the environment.

“That is why we have also gone ahead to organise replacement programme. We are planting within the confine of Uyo metropolis,” Udoh said.

He appealed to Akwa Ibom residents to embrace the efforts of the state government by planting five seedlings for every tree cut down.

In Cross River, the annual tree planting policy tagged “Green Carnival” which is observed on July 30 and aimed at tackling global warming, deforestation and climate change, has continued.

Commissioner for Environment, Mr Mfon Bassey, said in Calabar, the state capital, that the state government was committed to the preservation of the environment.

Bassey said the setting aside of a day for tree planting “underscores our readiness and commitment to forest conservation and management”.

He said that the event was usually observed across the 18 local government areas of the state simultaneously.

“This year, arrangements are on ground for the green carnival. The aim is to replace the old trees that have been cut off, beautify the environment and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

“In Calabar metropolis, we have cut down many old trees that were falling off whenever there was windstorm. We did that to avert accident,” Bassey said.

Meanwhile, the Head of Department, Forestry and Wildlife Management, University of Port Harcourt, Dr Adekunle Oladele, says indiscriminate logging of trees is one of the causes of global warming.

Oladele urged all levels of government, corporate bodies and individuals to embrace tree planting as a culture to improve the environment.

According to him, there is no alternative to plants (trees) because they are as important as food is to man and animals, irrespective of the level of efficacy of man-made technology.

“Trees play greater roles aside being an industrial necessity. Trees serve the purpose of environmental protection as well as soil and water conservation.

“Generally, trees mitigate global warming and enhances oxygen emission which cannot be quantified in monetary terms as humans breathe in oxygen to stay alive.

“This year, there are two bodies undertaking tree planting in the University of Port Harcourt.

“The Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management alone has so far planted over 1,200 trees between April and May this year. The plantation was established on campus by the department early this year.

“Another group in the Faculty of Environmental Sciences also planted some avenue trees within the campus and the university staff quarters,” Oladele said.

He advised farmers in the South-South region to allow trees grow on their farms to guard against erosion.

“My advice to residents in the South-South is that in the various farm locations, farmers should embrace tree planting to check erosion,” Oladele said.

Also, Dr Sunday Ntoiden, Controller, Federal Ministry of Environment in Akwa Ibom, State has said that afforestation as a scheme driven by the Federal Government, is to guide against climate change.

Ntoiden said there was need for everyone to plant trees around their surroundings to ameliorate the micro environment and stablise climate.

“If we plant more trees in our surroundings, it will modify and ameliorate the micro climate of such environment.

“It will stabilise the climate of a particular state and a particular country,” he said.

Ntoiden warned against indiscriminate felling of trees in the environment, stressing that it was the cause of heat experienced in the atmosphere.

“Fifty years ago when we were having more trees in our surroundings, there was no heat like we are experiencing today,” he said.

Meanwhile, an environmentalist, Mrs Iquo Bassey, has lamented that Nigeria’s forest reserves have been greatly destroyed, deforested, degraded, encroached upon and converted to other uses.

Bassey attributed the situation to increased pressure from the rapidly increasing population.

According to her, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation reported that the country has lost 96 per cent of its natural forest cover, and deforestation rate is at an alarming 11.1 per cent per annum.

“This prevalent problem of deforestation, fragmentation and land conversion for agricultural purpose and other uses, has affected adversely the forest biodiversity in the country,” Bassey said.

She asserted that the global challenge of climate change and biodiversity loss necessitated the need for sustainable forest management.

By Razak Owolabi

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