Governor Babatunde Fashola
Sunday Okobi and Sandra Nwaigba
In an effort to prevent deforestation and enhance a healthy environment, the Federal Ministry of Environment, Lagos State Control Office, last week commenced the distribution of free Tectonia grandis (TEAK) seedlings to some Local Governments Areas in the state.
The Federal Controller of Environment, Lagos Zone, Mr. A.I. Adefule, who disclosed this to journalists during the Presidential Initiative on Afforestation Awareness Campaign programme in Lagos, said the pilot programme also included establishment of new plantation for fuel wood production, establishment of a new plantation for poles and timber production, enrichment planting in degraded forest reserve and land, and restoration of soil fertility in degraded lands.
Adefule explained that the initiative was aimed at beautification of the environment, grow more trees, reforestation, ameliorate micro-climate, improve the air quality, reduce noise pollution and carbon, create wind break as well as control erosion and flooding in the state, and “the programme would be done in phases.
“The first phase of the campaign will cover four local government areas; Surulere, Mushin, Ajeromi and Alimosho and the second phase will cover 12 pilot schools across the state,” he noted.
He said 80,000 seedlings which have been planned for the state, are kept for easy dispatch in the three senatorial districts of Badagry, Ikorodu and Epe, including 20,000 seedlings planted in their premises which would be equally given out to the local councils and schools for further distribution .
“We of the Federal Ministry of Environment have 20,000 seedlings with us, so it is these ones in our care we want to give out today, and we are targeting the local governments which are the grassroots and schools. “
As soon as schools resume full academic session, they would be expected to participate in the programmes, since a grassroots’ approach is particularly necessary in this regard.
“To achieve the benefit of this programme and effective management, the ministry is embarking on this campaign and distribution of seedlings to foster unity, sensitise and generate public approach to tree planting among communities and schools,” the controller stated.
Adefule, in his speech delivered during the programme, disclosed that the total forest area in Nigeria in less than 10 per cent of the country total area. “This is quite far from the national minimum of 25 percent recommended by Food Agriculture Organisation(FAO), deforestation is therefore an important cause of environmental degradation which involves permanent loss of species, soil degradation, impact on climate change, situation of water bodies and desertification, hence the initiative,”
“Deforestation Therefore put at risk all aspect of the environment, the economy and the entire citizenry, and this has motivated us to embark of this noble programme to prevent any imminent environmental disaster,” he stressed.
THISDAY also learnt that the overall policy thrust of this programme is to use afforestation as a vehicle for youth empowerment and poverty alleviation and curb illegal logging in the country.
He said: “When we cut down trees, we erode the ecosystem, deplete biodiversity and consequently endanger our lives. When trees and animals become extinct who then is next?
“I am convinced that you will be inspired and encouraged to have a deeper commitment, as well as take action, since our vision is to bequeath a clean and healthy environment to generations yet unborn. This we can only do by planting a tree today,” Adefule posited.
The ministry however extend it appreciation to the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for its efforts to achieve a robust tree planting programme as a boost to the ministry activities, which Adefule described as “remarkable,” adding that “his leading position in tree planting campaign and environmental protection in the state is not only commendable, but will be seen as an example to other states.”