By Kingsley Adegboye & Chioma Obinna
The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has given reasons for making tree planting an annual ritual in the state.
Speaking at the 5th edition of the Lagos state tree planting programme, the governor explained that the initiative is to save the earth by adopting measures to combat the effects of climate change, protect trees and make the environment safe for all.
He disclosed that his government has planted over three million trees, and described it as a feat of 12 years achieved in four years.
Governor Fashola recounted the importance of trees and thick forests as buffer zones for various atmospheric occurrences and balance of vital gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, essential for different forms of survival.
“Apart from the life trees gives, it is known to be very useful in sinking carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and replenishing the air with oxygen coupled with the aesthetics value it adds to the environment,” he said.
Fashola described trees as “the longest living organism and greatest natural resources which had proven to be very useful to man as provider of foods and oxygen, meeting the ever increasing, expansive, diverse and dynamic world of humans and animals in areas of shelter, beauty and medicine”.
The Environment commissioner, Mr. Tunji Bello noted that the environment has witnessed tremendous transformation in the last few years and this has earned the state local and international recognitions.
Speaking on the importance of tree planting, the commissioner said: “Trees create vital habitat and promote biodiversity; abundant forests do not just enhance lives, they save lives”.
He further stated that planting trees and other vegetation expands the urban forest, creates wildlife habitat and improves storm water management, making communities more pleasant to live in.
“Trees also reduce the greenhouse effect by shading houses and office buildings. This reduces the need for air conditioning by up to 30 percent which in turn reduces the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity. For us in the this part of Nigeria, deforestation is more of a concern and has negative implications on the environment in terms of soil erosion, loss of wild life, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems,” he said.
According to Bello, Tree planting is a reforestation exercise. The man who plants a tree plants a hope, a future and a life; so, plant a tree today.
Representing the Governor at the Ogudu centre of the tree planting exercise, the State Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Bosun Jeje who described the exercise as a global affair noted that the significance of trees in the environment has been recognised by the United Nations.
Jeje who spoke extensively on the importance of trees in the environment identified trees as a natural source of capturing carbon, hence “the good air we breathe”.
“Secondly, the aesthetic value of trees in the environment cannot be over emphasised. We cannot do without trees in the environment. Thirdly, when you look at trees, nature has endowed them with certain functions that they must perform. The root of the trees holds the soil firmly thereby controlling the erosion through the process of the root in the soil.”
Trees planted this year across the state include: Ashoka (police type), Ashoka (Hands up), Ficus (yellow) and Melaina. The trees were deliberately chosen for site specifications.