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Nigeria Needs 1billion Trees To Stop Carbon Sink Challenge By 2030 – Environmentalists

By Femi Akinola

As part of Nigeria’s response to impact of climate change, the Federal Government of Nigeria during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, announced plan to plant 30 million trees by 2020. Many of the states across the country also started planting trees for their environment benefits.

Most states in the northern part of the country have the target of preventing further desertification. States in the south have a range of targets such as controlling erosion. Lagos State is one of those states with intent of reforesting, with a target of 10 million trees by 2020. None of the states including the federal government, meet the target of the targeted trees to be planted by 2020.

Last year, it was suggested that Nigeria should plant 400 million trees, at least two per person, because Ethiopia has set a record of planting 350 million trees in August 2019. Now that Nigerians knows better the significant of tree in reducing the ‘Greenhouse’ effect by removing carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen, how many trees should we plant in Nigeria in a year to stop carbon sink challenge?
Responding to the question, Professor Yaya Kuta, University of Ibadan, described Nigerian attitude to eliminating carbon footprint from the environment as not doing enough.

He said there has been continuous bombardment of Nigerian forests by those whose main business is making charcoal from trees that are usually cut down trees illegally both economic trees and ordinary.

He also berated Nigerians who goes to bush and cut down trees to make firewood describing them as saboteurs of the fight against climate change in Nigeria.

Prof. Kuta listed effects of depleted ozone layer and cutting down of trees in the forest without sufficient replacement as the cause of desert encroachment and devastating flood being witnessed across the country.

He warned that the government at all levels need to rise up and embark on massive tree planting as it was done in Ethiopia in 2019, to stem the tide of desertification in the north and flooding in the south.

According to the professor, Desertification is coming towards Nigeria at the speed of 10km per annum noting that States in the northern part of the country like Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Borno and Jigawa State risk desertification unless massive tree planting is embarked on to curb the environmental degradation.

”Climate change has greatly affected farming and fishing in the Lake Chad Basin area. This is a warning to Nigeria to rise up and prevent such occurrence in the country. The Governor of Niger State who was a farmer knows what green environment is all about. He has set example of what other governors need to do to halt carbon foot print in the country.

”The governor has started championing Agro forest and greening the environment. He has signed an agreement with an organisation to plant 10 million trees. Niger State has already become a centre for climate action. The governor has also embarked on rural transformation focusing more on Agricultural activities. This is what his counterparts in other states, particularly the norther states should emulate so that in the not-too-distant future, Nigeria will be free from carbon sinking, ” Prof. Kuta noted.

He went further to describe the vital roles trees play in the environment. According to him, trees play a vital role in maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. ”The entire planet’s biodiversity is sustained by trees. Every living creature needs food, water, and air for its survival. Trees play a very important role in the production of all these three necessities.

Continuing, he said trees reduce the ‘Greenhouse’ effect by removing carbon dioxide from the air an releases oxygen. Each year, a mature tree produces enough oxygen for 10 people. Trees are also effective sound barrier and can limit noise pollution. Nigeria need to continue planting trees in millions on yearly basis if the country must be free from devastating effects of climate change,” he emphasized.

In his own contribution, Professor Emmanuel Oladipo said that level of carbon foot print in the country is not what Nigerians should be talking about in 2024. He said a lot has been said by environmentalists in the country but little has been done to eliminate of carbon footprint across the country.

”How do we start talking about carbon sinking in the country and tree planting after many years of talk on same issue. Where is the 30 million trees planned to be planted by the Nigerian Government by 2020? What would we be talking about tree planting when people at my level are finding it difficult to buy gas that should have served as a transistion energy into a cleaner renewable energy. How much are they selling gas of 12kg cylinder?

”How many Nigerians could afford the cost of gas at the cost of N1, 200 and above per kilo? There is no light everywhere and only the rich could afford buying petrol at over N600 per litre to run their generator as alternative source of power. So many people have ventured into charcoal business and they re thriving because theere is high demand for charcoal by people who are living below poverty line,” the professor explained.

He continue asking questions thus: ”On what basis do we determine the number of trees to be planted? Are we serious about tree planting? At those places where trees were planted in the past, who monitor and manage them till they grow? In the northern part of the country people plant trees but herders fed their cattle on growing trees making it impossible for such trees to grow,” he said.

He, however, highlighted on the principle of carbon dioxide absorption and releases of oxygen from trees which he described as a symbiotic relationship between trees and human beings that cannot be denied, else people will continue wallowing under impacts of climate change.

He urged the federal and state governments to take tree planting serious and fund it accordingly noting that Nigeria need to plant more trees beyond what Ethiopians planted in 2019.

Mrs. Bose is an Architect who double as environmental activist. In her response to the need for more action on tree planting in Nigeria, she said her organisation, WEN-Synergy Ltd, plan to plant 0ne million trees this year.

According to her, it is high time for Nigeria to embark on massive tree planting to mitigate tree planting and also for business purposes.

The environmental activist said she cares to plant trees to get timber which would be depend on to make house Furnitures and in the construction sector so that trees planted to curb carbon foot print could be left lone to grow and serve the purpose it was planted.

”Sawmillers are one of the problems hindering growth of trees being planted in the country. I want to plant trees to get timbers. I planned to plant One million trees. Getting land to plant the trees is the challenge. For this, I am planning stakeholder forum where Commissioners for Agriculture and Environment will be invited to partake. I’ve done it twice and I am going to do it again to stop the problem of illegal tree felling for wood in Nigeria,” she said.

She said Nigeria need to plant one billion trees between now and 2030. ”We can do it and it is a task that must be done by all particularly the government. To plant one billion trees between now and 2030, every hands must be on deck. If we can get 25% of the population committed to planting trees and watch them grow through regular maintenance, we would reach that goal before that year. We can also get there if 1,000 entities can plant one million trees per evry year from now on.

“We can also get there if all the 774 local government areas in the country plant one million trees each year from now till the targeted 2030. Schools at all levels should start planting trees according to their student population. We should not embark on planting trees just to set a record or compete with any country’s tree planting record. The climate challenge confronting us in our country is different from other countries. Nigerian Government should drive plantation forest establishment and show commitment to it,” she noted.

For tree planting to succeed in Nigeria, Dr. Muiz Banire, former Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, said the right species should be selected after professional consultations. He added that the preferences of the public matter and people need to understand the potential benefits of the project.

According to him, before planting trees to mitigate risks, it is important to take range of factors into account. The first is to consider how to give the programme the best chance of succeeding. Some of the factors to think about would be which species are most suitable, how many trees will achieve the objective and what it will cost. The second is to consider the view of the people who will be affected by the tree planting.

Narrating his experience as a Commissioner for Environment during the regime of former governor Babatunde Fashola’s (SAN), he said people of Lagos preferred trees that produce shades and edible fruits. People of Lagos, according to Banire, complained of not benefitting from the trees planted around them by the ministry and other agencies noting that this was because the trees planted were not producing edible fruits as they expected and they were not large enough to provide shades.

Banire, however, explained that those trees planted in the city then were to beautify the city and prevent erosion and not to produce edible fruits as people expected.

”The trees planted have many benefits such as environmental, economic and social. They absorb carbon dioxide, produced oxygen, cool surroundings, and help reduce the severity of floods, erosion and pollution. They also improve air quality,” he said adding that trees planted along the major roads and highways have traffic calming effect. He said they can screen unwanted views or noise from busy highways.

Speaking on massive tree planting to curb carbon footprint across the country, Fola Babalola, an environmentalist, explained that planting and managing trees costs money.

According to him, how much depends on things like the species of tree and where it will be raised and planted. He said timing of planting should also be properly planned for the seedlings to be procured and ready for planting out.

Other costs to budget for tree planting include labour, equipment, transport of seedlings from the nursery to the planting site, and filed maintenance costs such as watering, weeding, pruning, pest control, and other miscellaneous supplies.

The top five trees are Baobab, Moringa, Shea, Frankincense, and Cashew. NatureNews findings showed that the most common trees in Nigeria are , are tree, teak, Indian Laurel, neem tree, African oil palm tree, Kapok tree, corn plant, guava, moringa, papayaa, avocado, Chinese hibiscus, poison tree, and elephant tree. Both economic and fruit bearing trees also serves as a source of income, mitigate malnutrition and checkmate climate change.


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