By Adedotun Ajayi
Forest degradation is a significant problem in Nigeria, and it is primarily caused by deforestation, illegal logging, and unsustainable agricultural practices. The consequences of forest degradation in Nigeria are severe, including soil erosion, reduced water quality, decreased biodiversity, and climate change.
Last month, the National Forestry Trust Fund, NFTF, brought its campaign against forest degradation and deforestation to Ondo State.
The move was to create awareness on the importance of tree planting to protect humans and preserve animals in the environment.
The NFTF is saddled with the responsibility of restoring sustainable forestry management in Nigeria and to help address funding reforestation and afforestation to increase the nation’s forest cover.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Press Officer to the Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Sola Omoboyela, and made available to The Hope .
The team lead of NFTF, Mr Joseph Omozoje who spoke with students and teachers of CAC Grammar School, Akure, and residents of Aponmu Community, stated that the council was in Ondo State to create awareness on the need to protect the environment through tree planting and to sensitise the students to help spread the gospel of the benefits associated with tree planting.
Mr. Omozoje said the council is to generate additional funding, apart from the normal statutory budgetary allocation to carry out reforestation, protection, conservation, and sustainable management of the forest reserves in the country.
He stated that the council would make tree seedlings available for planting during the rainy season in the state, and people would be engaged in planting and maintenance.
The leader of the team explained further that the community would provide land for the planting, and that they would take ownership in as much the land belongs to the people.
Responding, the Olu of Aponmu, Oba Captain Solomon Faleye rtd, who spoke through the Lisa, Chief Ayodele Joshua, appreciated the Federal Ministry of Environment, members of the team and Ondo State Government for coming to his domain to sensitise the people on how to cultivate the habit of protecting the environment through tree planting.
Earlier, the team paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Olayato Aribo, in his office in Akure, where the commissioner assured them of total support and collaboration to make the environment habitable.
Aribo added that the state government is planning to plant 10,000 hectares of land this year through the ministry and another hectare through private investors.
He said the state government has put machinery in place to tackle deforestation and degradation by encouraging private investors to come in, adding that tree seedlings will be made available for people to plant.
Babafemi Osinubi, an Agronomist, in his submission said to combat forest degradation in Nigeria, there are several strategies that can be employed such as encouraging sustainable forest management practices such as selective logging, reforestation, and afforestation which can help to reduce forest degradation and also implementing forest laws and regulations that protect forests and penalize illegal logging and deforestation can help to deter those who engage in destructive practices.
According to him; “Another major challenge facing our forests is the fact that there are no alternative livelihoods for communities around these forests, providing alternative livelihoods to communities that depend on forest resources can help to reduce the pressure on the forests” .
Temitope Ogunleye, an Agrologist said educating the public about the importance of forests and the negative consequences of deforestation and forest degradation can help to create a culture of conservation.
According to him; “People need to be sensitized and aware of the dangers we are creating with our hands. Deforestation fractures forest habitat. It’s a common knowledge that animals use trees for food, shelter, and nesting sites.
Without trees, animals must find other places to survive or they will perish. Animal populations suffer dramatic losses when their natural habitat is altered. In tropical rainforests where species diversity is highest, habitat fragmentation and loss can have significant effects on animal populations,” he reacted.
Biodun Olaitan, an environmentalist, said according to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), deforestation in Africa is twice the whole world rate, even as Nigeria ‘has lost about 96 percent of its natural forest.’
According to him “It is such a catastrophic situation that the country’s vegetation is disappearing. As of late 2012, nearly half of Nigeria was forested (defined as land with more than 10 per cent tree cover), but the country’s rainforests are fast declining. In most western nations, forests are properly managed and conserved to safeguard the future, but in Nigeria priorities are accorded to managing a few forests and some national parks, Who is to be blamed for these lapses, but the authorities for their negligence” he lamented.
Ayodeji Ayanleye, a public health educator said over the years a growing body of scientific evidence shows that the felling of tropical forests creates optimal conditions for the spread of mosquito-borne scourges, including malaria and dengue. Primates and other animals are also spreading disease from cleared forests to people.
According to him; “Deforestation is having worrisome effects, such as increase in the spread of life-threatening diseases like malaria and dengue fever.
For a host of ecological reasons, the loss of forest can act as an incubator for insect-borne and other infectious diseases that afflict humans. On this note, our forests should be left alone, let’s encourage tree planting” he said.
Sunday Olakuolie said the government can not do all, this is our land and we need to collectively make it a better place.
In his submission he said, “At this point, we should not leave everything to the government alone. We as citizens need to do our part, also collaboration between government agencies, NGOs, and local communities will definitely help to implement effective strategies to combat forest degradation in Nigeria” he added
In conclusion, the campaign against forest degradation in Nigeria requires a multi-faceted approach that involves sustainable forestry practices, law enforcement, promotion of alternative livelihoods, public education, and collaboration among stakeholders.
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