By Funmi Olasupo
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN says Nigeria loses about 350,000 to 400,000 hectares of land per year to deforestation.
The organisation however noted that, while the recommended forest cover for every nation is 26 per cent, the reverse is the case for Nigeria, because the country’s forest cover is said to be less than six per cent.
This statistics is said to represent a real and present danger for the nation and all stakeholders in the public and private sectors who urge every Nigerian to work together to save our trees and the environment as a whole.
Forest and wet lands depend on water sources but at the same time, the forest eco-systems sustain water quality and help mitigate the risks of water-related disasters.
Speaking recently at this year’s International Day of the Forest and National Tree Planting Campaign in Abuja, the Minister of Environment Ms. Amina Mohammed, stated that forest covers one-third of the earth’s land mass, contributing significantly to reducing soil erosion and the risks of landslides and other natural disasters.
Amina said that Nigeria is not only one of the top 10 countries in the world with highest rates of deforestation but also the second highest in Africa, behind Sudan, stressing that over 1.6 billion people across the world depend majorly on forest resources for livelihood.
She however, urged all Nigerians to join hands with government at all levels in its quest to preserve the nation’s forest resources.
The significance of the day according to the Minister is to create awareness among people on why they should protect the nation’s forest cover for the survival of humanity and other living organisms.
On the significance of this year’s celebration, with the theme, ‘Forests and Water,’ Amina said: “This year’s celebration will raise awareness on how forests are key to the planet, supply of fresh water, which is essential to life and the multiple links within the forest and water sources.
The Minister therefore called on various stakeholders to collaborate with government in its quest to institute sound forest management in the country.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General, Nigeria Conservation Foundation, Mr. Adeniyi Karunwi, lamented the state of forest in Nigeria, saying that most of the trees that would have provided the needed cover, have been felled all in the name of industrialisation.
Kariunwi said development and protection of the forest could co-exist with proper understanding of the significance of the forest to man.
While calling on the Federal Government to declare emergency on the state of the nation’s forest, the DG also called for massive awareness campaigns with a view to making the people know its importance to the country.
Delivering her goodwill message at the event, the MTN Nigeria Executive Amina Oyagbola stressed that the importance of forests to the sustenance of mankind is an incontrovertible fact that should not be overlooked. She explained that, across the world, millions of people depend on forests for their livelihood, and they provide shelter to over 80 per cent of animal and plant species.
“In our part of the world, Nigeria is home of a rich variety of forests and wildlife. Regrettably, this source of national pride has been threatened in recent times by deforestation, the industrial and agricultural logging of wood among other factors.”.