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Environmentalist advocates more afforestation activities to curb desertification

An environmentalist, Mr Gafar Odubote, has called for increased afforestation efforts to address the growing desertification encroachment on farmable lands in the country.

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Odubote, the regional manager of “Let’s Do it Africa”, a non-profit organisation with bias for environmental issues, made the call in an interview on Monday, June 21, 2021 in Lagos.

According to him, if afforestation activities are not carried out in earnest, the growing desert encroachment on farm lands may affect food security in the country.

“It is quite necessary that, at this point in time, we need to encourage afforestation because a proportion of our agricultural land has really been degraded as a result of desertification.

“If we do not embark on afforestation activities with commitment, this degradation of our farmable land will affect food security in the near future.

“We are losing most of our farmlands, especially in the northern region of the country, to desertification; most farmers can no longer cultivate crops because of this.

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“To be able to get result-oriented afforestation, we need to get accurate data on desert encroachment in the country so as to plant commensurate numbers of trees and greenery to fight back.

“How well we are able to capture data on deforestation and desert encroachment will determine how we are able to address the situation.

“Let us know the number of trees that we need to plant, the expanse of farmable lands that has been degraded by desertification.

“These data will give us the first step in understanding the situation we are in,” the environmentalist said.

Odubote also buttressed the need for the implementation of actionable policies on tree planting to reduce desertification in the country.

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According to him, most Nigerians are not aware of the benefits of tree planting to the environment, so they need to be sensitised on the need to plant trees.

“Following the acquisition of data on the level of deforestation and desertification we are faced with, then, we will need to take policy actions as well as implementation of the policies.

“We must implement tree planting policies to address desertification by acting on the data we have collected so as to promote afforestation.

“The government should adopt a system that promotes ‘one household, one tree’ to promote afforestation in the country.

“We also need to create awareness on afforestation to quell climate change realities of which desertification is one.

“Most Nigerians do not understand the benefits of tree planting in reducing carbon footprint from the environment.

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“Unfortunately, there are urban areas where they do not have land spaces available to plant trees but they can have small-potted trees that do not have the deep root system to promote afforestation,” Odubote said.

He said that when planning the cities, town planners and other relevant agencies should include tree planting structures in the master plan.

Also, from the architectural designs of our homes; we must have plans for greenery, he said.

“People do not know what it takes to replace a tree that had been cut down, we need to enforce laws on illegal tree felling and enforce policies on continuous tree planting in the country,” he said.

By Mercy Omoike

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