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Children vital in fight against ozone layer depletion, says CRS official

Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Climate Change & Forestry, Mr Obang Timothy Akwaji, says children in the state must be taught to plant trees if the fight against ozone layer depletion must be sustained.

Ozone
The hole in the ozone layer has shrunk by more than 1.7 million square miles since 2,000, according to scientists. Photo credit: NASA GODDARD

Akwaji made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar, the state capital, on Monday, September 16, 2019 while commemorating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.

The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is commemorated annually on the Sept. 16 to advocate for activities to create awareness on topics related to climate change and ozone depletion.

He described the ozone layer as an envelope that shields mankind from solar radiation, but overtime had been an issue of concern due to the excessive emission of carbon into the atmosphere which was depleting the ozone layer.

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He said that the ozone layer could not be repaired physically but there were activities that could be carried out to cause its repair.

“We have seen situations when it is hot and the intensity is so excessive and when it rains, it is heavy and causes flood, and this is because of climate change.

“God in his wisdom created man last because he understood that trees needed to come first to ensure the purification of the environment by taking up carbon which is hazardous to the environment,” he said.

According to him, Cross River State is in the forefront of climate change mitigation and that was why, in 2015, the governor of the state, Prof. Ben Ayade, created a separate Ministry for Climate Change, which no state in Africa can boast of such a ministry.

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He said that Cross River holds 58 per cent of the remaining tropical forest in Nigeria and had been piloting Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) programme on behalf of Nigeria in the last 12 years.

The permanent secretary said the state is pursuing an aggressive afforestation programme with planting of five million trees both in the cities and forests in the rural areas to replenish the degraded forest reserve.

He said that the more there was a reduction of carbon emission to the atmosphere and the release of more oxygen, the ozone layer would gradually be repaired, adding that this could only be achieved when there was an increase of plant cover.

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He added that Cross River had a law that backed up the Forestry Commission to arrest and ensure that illegal loggers were arrested and prosecuted.

“The Forestry Commission has a forestry management committee who work with the communities where forests are found in the state to ensure that only licensed loggers are allowed and when they cut down a tree, three are planted.

“We need to take leadership in ensuring that the ozone layer is preserved by avoiding anything that will cause carbon emission and ensure that we plant more trees.

Earlier, the UN Secretary General, Anthony Gutierres, in a statement said: “We must be careful not to neglect the ozone layer and stay alert to the threat posed by the illegal use of ozone depleting gases.

“A healthy ozone layer and climate are essential to meeting all of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

By Christian Njoku

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