Climate: Nigeria’s Forest Cover Has Dropped To 4% — NCF Chair, Dafinone

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Nigeria’s forest cover has dropped from 40% of the country’s total landmass in previous decades to about 4% currently due to the effect of human activities on the environment, Chairman, National Executive Council of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, (NCF), Chief Ede Dafinone has said.

Dafinone told The New Diplomat on Monday while addressing a press conference on an awareness campaign tagged ‘Walk For Nature’, aimed at sensitising the citizenry on the need to protect the environment and nature.

The campaign which will hold on Saturday, October 23, 2021 will take place simultaneously in Ikeja Local Government, Surulere Local Government, and Ikoyi Obalende Local Council Development Area, areas of Lagos State.

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The NCF Chairman who lamented the alarming rate of deforestation in the country, noted that forests serve the ecosystem well in providing oxygen and stopping global warming.

In his words, “The forest cover in Nigeria was about 40% of the land area, at today’s rate we are down to 3-4%. The forests are disappearing and are cut down at an alarming rate. And as you all know, because the reason for this is that has a significant impact on climate change, because the oxygen given off and the protection of the ozone layer afforded by the trees is critical in stopping global warming.”

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Speaking on efforts by the NCF to tackle deforestation, Dafinone said the foundation has drafted a plan named Green Recovery Nigeria(GRN), which is aimed at getting the forest reserve of the country to 25%. He added that the NCF is also funding the planting of tree seedlings across Nigeria, adding that a total of 2 million trees were planted in 2020.

He continued, “At NCF we started what we call the GRN project which is aimed at getting Nigeria back to 25% forest reserve within the next 30 years. We do that by planting new trees, regenerating old forests and preventing existing forests from being cut down. This is something that the federal government has also taken on board. Last year, it was the COVID year but we still managed to plant just under 2 million trees at NCF. We need further support and encouragement on this.

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“You’ll see also from the banner behind me that it is not just Lagos state and NCF, we have corporate Nigeria also largely represented, we have Ecobank, Coca-Cola, Nigerian Bottling Company, Fidelity bank, First Bank, Access bank, Chervon, coming in to support the work for nature. It is an awareness campaign. The idea is to take the message to many Lagosians and Nigerians as possible. Hence, also the need for this press conference before the events to make sure Nigerians are more sensitized about the program to hold on Saturday.”

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In her address, Mrs. Belinda Aderonke Odeneye, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Environment said the Lagos government has embarked on several schemes to ensure a sustainable environment in the state.

She added that the state government under the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has concentrated on improving wastes, energy and transport sectors as part of contributions to mitigate against climate crisis.

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According to him, the state government has made provisions for public transport systems which have compressed energy capacity. She further appeal to Lagosians to join hands with the government in minimizing pollution and reducing plastic waste, adding that the state is at the risk of further losing its ecosystem should pollution of the environment persists.

In her words, “The key areas that Lagos state concentrated on is wastes, energy and transport. Right now we are concentrating on renewable energy and solar energy.

“For the BRT, considering that several buses were burnt (during the #EndSARS protest), we have a lot of them that use compressed energy. Those buses that were burnt they had compressed energy capacity with AC, wifi and all kinds. So that you and I can enter buses and leave our vehicles. We need also to change orientation and leave on this earth very well, knowing that whatever we do will come back to us, it is a vicious cycle. The environment, if you throw pollutants into the water it can come back to meet you. If you think that you can throw it in Alagbado, it will come back to meet you in Ikoyi, environment has no boundaries.” She said.

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