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Tackling Environmental Degradation Via Tree Planting



It is a common knowledge that forest cover protects the environment against erosion, desert encroachment and environmental degradation generally.

However, official records from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) show that Nigeria’s total forest cover has depreciated from six per cent in 1997 to 10 per cent in 2010.

Also, Nigeria has yet to meet the FAO recommendation of 26 per cent forest cover for countries’ territories.

To redress the trend, the Federal Government has been putting some strategies in place to promote afforestation.

One of the programmes introduced by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is the Presidential Initiative on Afforestation.

The Minister of Environment, Hajia Hadiza Mailafia, said that 22 million assorted seedlings had been distributed to communities under the programme.

She said that the ministry was intensifying efforts through the initiative to ensure the preservation and protection of the environment.

The Jonathan-administration has also approved N10 billion for the resuscitated National Council on Shelterbelt and Afforestation to enable it to carry out afforestation programmes.

The council is charged with the responsibility of stemming the southward movement of the Sahara Desert and mitigating its effect on the environment.

Vice-President Namadi Sambo noted that although the council was set up about nine years ago, it became dormant when the Great Green Wall Initiative came on-stream in 2005.

The minister of environment said that the Great Green Wall Initiative would be implemented in the frontline states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Yobe and Borno.

Mailafia said that the current rate of desert encroachment into Nigeria was estimated at 0.6 km per annum.

“The green barrier will be a global answer to the combined effect of natural resources’ degradation and drought in rural areas,’’ she said.

According to her, the project will be executed in phases over a 12-year period.

Dr Bukhar Hassan, the Director, Drought and Desertification Amelioration Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that trees could help in reducing greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

“Greenhouse gas (GHG) is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range, which is solely responsible for global warming or greenhouse effect,’’ he added.

Hassan said that planting more trees meant cooler temperature, cleaner air, replenished ground water supplies, safer and beautiful environment.

Mr John Auta, a former Director, Forestry Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that tree planting was the primary solution to the problem of climate change.

Auta said that tree planting was a major strategy which could address climate change in Nigeria.

“Carbon trading is one of the major products of afforestation,’’ he said, adding, however, that Nigeria had not met FAO’s 26-per-cent forest cover requirement.

He stressed that environmental problems such as desertification and erosion could best be controlled through tree planting.

Auta said that human-induced global deforestation was responsible for 18 per cent to 25 per cent of the current climate change.

Auta said that the second phase of the Presidential Afforestation Initiative would start soon, adding that the initial phase, which involved the cultivation of tree seedlings and the development of nurseries, had been completed.

He said that the seedlings would be distributed to the states under the second phase.

However, G-SAP, a non-governmental organisation, underscored the need for Nigerians living in cities to initiate urgent urban afforestation programmes.

Mr Jock James, Project Director of G-SAP, made the call when he inaugurated the “Instant Urban Forest’’ project in the FCT recently.

He said that the programme was particularly aimed at mobilising the public to plant trees in urban centres.

James stressed that more trees ought to be planted in urban centres because rural communities were still having some trees.

“If we plant trees, they will not only make our environment green but we will also curb climate change as well as desertification,’’ he said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Alhaji Salisu Dahiru, the Acting Director of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, said that afforestation would also boost flood-control efforts.

He noted that indiscriminate felling of trees was responsible for at least 20 per cent to 25 per cent of climate change effects.

Dahiru stressed that deforestation was one of major factors causing the degradation of the environment.

“It is largely responsible for the flooding which we are seeing in the eastern parts of the country because of the absence of trees which provide cover and prevent heavy rain from reaching the loose soil.

“The roots of trees help to bind the soil together, so when the soil is not there, torrential rainfall continues to wash away this loose soil,’’ he said.

All the same, Mr Idoko Stephen, an environmentalist, stressed that the tree planting campaign was not a new phenomenon, adding that what was obviously lacking was its continuity and sustainability.

He, however, bemoaned a situation where tree planting campaigns were largely restricted to the urban areas, stressing that there was a greater need to enlighten rural dwellers about the importance of planting trees.

All in all, stakeholders want the government to sustain its tree planting programmes, while engaging in a more vigorous public enlightenment campaign on the importance of tree planting.

Abochol writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)


Martins Abochol

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CSOs Partner Govt On Climate Change



Some civil society organisations have expressed their willingness to partner with the government to address climate change and other environmental challenges in the new year.
Some of the organisations include, the Nigeria Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement at the SDG’s (NCSfPAS) GIFSED, Climate and Sustainable network as well as Women Environmental Programme (WEP) Gender and Environmental Initiatives (GERI).
The Tide source in Abuja reported the Executive Director of Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem preservation, Mr. David Terugwa as saying that they were ready to partner government with view to addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.
For us, we are looking at those areas where we can come in and assist and to be partners with the government.
Project Lead, CSDeu Net, Mr. Pius Oko, said that the group will support the government and other stakeholders in the implementation of the law.
“We are here today to make a step forward. We want to first highlight the issues that concern the impact in climate change and have a tangible solution to such problems.
Executive-Director, WEP,Mrs Anne-Marie Abaogu said CSOs were set to develop a partnership that would implement framework to reverse the ugly trend of climate change in the country.

By: Oribim Ibama

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Monarch Advises Community On Sanitation



The Onuayekein /Amanyanabo of Obonoma Community, King Enenibofori Dateme Obonogina, has charged the community to take the issue of sanitation seriously. Speaking at an interative session recently in the community, the Obonogina said all grasses and bushes must be cleared to expose the face of the community.
He said the situation will improve the hygienic and aesthetic conditions of the community. King Dateme said the community will expand the road recently commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to enable it include more of its hinterland communities.
He said the expansion of the road will boost farming and fishing activities in the areas as well as enable more farmers and fishermen to evacuate their produce to the markets thereby boosting the economy of the area.
He said the community will liaise with Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a view to developing the areas. King Dateme also stressed the need for unity and love among the people. According to him, when there is love, there will be peace and development of the community.
Also speaking, Professor Anyamebo Okorosoye Orubite, urged the people to cultivate the spirit of self help instead of relying solely on government for the development of their communities.
He also said that arrangements were on to build a Kalabari University at Semoo.

By: Oribim Ibama

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NOA Charges Nigerians On Illegal Oil Bunkering



National Orientation Agency (NOA) has called on Nigerians to regard any money generated from illegal oil bunkering business also known as “Kpofire” business as blood money.
Rivers State Director of the Agency, Barrister Young Ayotamuno, made the call in an exclusive interview with The Tide in Port Harcourt.
Ayotamuno also said kpofire business also negated the right to life of Nigerians.
According to him, citizen’s constitutional rights to life are being breached by the proliferation of illegal refinaries in the region.
Ayotamuno, who said deaths related to respiratory tract infection is likely to increase in the next few years in the region also described as baseless, arguments that poverty and unemployment are responsible for the rising cases of illegal oil bunkering activities in the Niger Delta.
“You cannot use poverty to justify the breaking of pipelines, which is a critical national asset”, stressing that the National Orientation Agency (NOA) will continue to sensitise members of the public on the need to protect the nation’s asset.
The NOA director also commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for directing local government chairmen in the state to monitor their areas and ensure the stoppage of illegal oil bunkering activities in their domains.
“NOA is thanking Governor Wike for asking local government chairmen to monitor their areas.
“NOA will continue to sensitise members of the public that you cannot use poverty to justify the breaking of pipelines which is a national assets”.
“The consequence of illegal refinery is that it negates the right to life of the citizen.
“Peoples Constitutional Right to Life is being negated. Peoples environment is being destroyed”, he said.
He said stopping the nefarious activities require a lot of political will add “we must work with state government and federal government to curb it. “Kpofire money is blood money” he declared.
Ayotamuno said the society cannot be battling kpofire and Covid-19 at the same time as reports had it that both incidences are responsible for series of respiratory infections.
He also called on the government to revisit the issues of modular refineries as well as the stoppage of gas flaring in the country.
The NOA Director also called for a half to the practice of burning of tyres and that of bush burning, while destruction of illegal petroleum vessels by military should be stopped.

By: John Bibor

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