By Hugo Odiogor
When the Nigerian Conservation Foundation began its campaign for green consciousness protection of the environment and biodiversity, hardly did Nigerians recognise the danger that was staring the country in the face.
Today we are ravaged by deforestation, drought, desert encroachment, ocean floods and emission of methane gas into the atmosphere. At 20th anniversary, the NCF is still struggling to make Nigerians appreciate the delicate balance between economic development and having a sustainable habitation for man kind.
Nigeria as a country is faced with unsustainable use of natural resources which is encouraging the encroachment of Sahara desert in the North, deforestation in the south, ocean floods in the coastal areas and pollution of the ecology and the atmosphere by oil exploration activities.
Environment activists, Prince Goke Ademuluyi is worried that Nigeriaâ€™s forest cover has suffered tremendously from industrial and infrastructural developments as there is no balance in pursuing economic development and conservation policy.
As a result of this, there is careless depletion of the fauna and flora the resources in the ecosystem. Nigeria had in 1988, adopted a national policy on conservation of its forest resources. It was agreed that the country will restore 25% of its forest reserves by 2020. Since then, there has been no political will to ensure implementation of the policy.
Said Ademuluyi â€œNigeria is experiencing aggressive desertification in the North, gully and costal erosions in South East and Niger-Delta states, the underdeveloped energy sector creates serious problems as poor rural dwellers resort to the use of firewood as their energy source.â€œ
The Federal government launched a N32billion war against desert encroachment to build a green shelter from Kebbi to Borno State. It is estimated that Nigeria needs to plant about 15million hectares of vegetation to meet the international target. Using alternative sources is key to conservation and aforestation.
Towards these ends, government has embarked on elaborate national tropical forest action plan through the extensive National Afforestation Program. These activities include community-based tree planting, tightening control of fuel wood extraction from reserves and development of more efficient wood stove. Federal Government in collaboration with States is to ensure sustainable use of our forests and also prevent desert encroachment.
The Federal government has spear_headed the establishment of the Greenwall Sahara Program which will promote afforestation activities from the northern fringe of Nigeria to Mauritania. The goal is not only to protect the forest as one of the means of mitigating climate change but also to safeguard our biological diversities and reverse the ecological status of the area to a more productive one.