March 21, 2022

IFD: A heart for our forests

IFD: A heart for our forests

TO any committed environmentalist, the waterfronts of Makoko, Ebute Metta Lagos, presents a heart-rending eyesore.

Hundreds of thousands of logs floated in from the coastal mangrove and evergreen forests cover the surface of the Lagos Lagoon. This has been the case for decades.

It is one grim evidence of the mindless man-made deforestation and desertification malaises that have led to the rapid browning of the maps of Nigeria and Africa. The rain forests and mangroves of Africa have almost disappeared, except for the diminishing patches of green in the coastal fringes of West Africa and the hinterland of Central Africa.

The direct opposite is the case for continental Europe, the greenest continent. Europe has mastered the management of its forests such that even the largest cities still accommodate trees and flowers. As populated as London is, for instance, 25 per cent of the metropolis is open space for trees and flowers.

Africans have not imbibed the lesson that trees and forests are the life support systems for living things. We pay lip service to environmental issues. We have ministries of the environment at the federal and most state levels, yet there is little justification for their existence. The desert is encroaching at an alarming rate, displacing millions of people, impoverishing millions more and igniting conflicts, especially Islamic terrorism around the Lake Chad Basin.

It was in an effort to draw universal attention to the menace of the rapid disappearance of the world’s forest resources that the United Nations in 2012 declared March 21 every year as the International Forest Day, IFD. Forests cover 30 per cent of the earth’s surface and accommodates 80 per cent of all terrestrial plants and animals.

They provide us with clean air, especially oxygen. They are responsible for the harmony and balance in nature which are essential for preserving all life on earth.

Man has been empowered to exert dominion over all things on earth. Governments in Europe and parts of Asia and the Americas are implementing regulations for forest conservation. But same cannot be said for the greed for profits which motivate the destruction of forests through lumbering and the quest for firewood.

Also, the culture of bush burning for hunting of bushmeat especially in Africa, is a very widely tolerated malpractice.

We call on the United Nations, nations, organisations and individuals to have a heart for our forests. Let us take Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, seriously and confront desertification and deforestation head-on.

About 1.6 billion people depend on forests. Let us embrace tree planting as a civic obligation, even if it means massive planting of economic trees within our neighbourhoods.

It is not just a profitable venture; it is also an emergency measure to save the world from imminent climate disaster.

Vanguard News Nigeria