Olasupo: Over 80% of Nigeria’s Forest Cover Lost to Deforestation

Gilbert Ekugbe

A Field Supervisor and award-winning plant conservationist, Mr. Olukunle Olasupo, has stated that Nigeria has lost over 80 per cent of its original forest cover to deforestation, stressing that the rate is far below the recommended minimum.

According to him, there is a lack of proper enforcement to stop illegal logging in protected areas, saying that farmers clearing land for agriculture or charcoal production are significantly threatening protected areas.

He called on individuals, government, public, and private institutions to prioritise efforts in keeping urban centers forested, adding that individuals should commit to planting trees as well as government, public and private institutions.

According to Olasupo, afforestation is simply planting trees, giving the planet a significant, leafy lung transplant, saying that it has increased forest cover, which benefits everyone.

“On the other hand, deforestation is the chopping down of trees, which poses a significant threat to our environment,” he added.

Olasupo highlighted the incredible work IITA Forest Center does for forest conservation in Nigeria.

He said: “The Forest Center offers educational programs on forest conservation, teaching young people how to identify plants, collect seeds, and become forest champions.”

The Forest Center teaches people how to cultivate medicinal plants in their backyards to reduce the pressure on wild populations. It has partnered with the US Embassy to bring these programs to schools in southwest Nigeria.

He said that individuals should plant short trees such as the miracle berry tree in their backyards and homes, which pose no threat to fences or foundations of people’s homes.

Olasupo charged the government with upholding and enforcing policies that support environmental conservation.

He said: “Gazette areas for tree planting in urban centers should remain gazette areas for the same. Everyone has a role to play. Walkways or driveways in institutions can be bordered left and right with trees, as we see in IITA. Everyone, from individuals and communities to the government, must upgrade and take responsibility for protecting our forests. Together, we can make a difference.”

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