Officials of the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and other groups have urged young Nigerian students to ensure environmental sustainability through planting of trees and creation of gardens where necessary within the ecosystem.
They spoke during the visitation to two secondary schools in Abuja on Friday, which is part of the two-day tree planting campaign activities.
The tree planting campaign movement was championed by PTCIJ through its Agricultural Journalism Project (AJP) and Natural Resource Program (NAREP) in partnership with PREMIUM TIMES and the Association of Flower Nurseries and Landscaping Practitioners Abuja (AFNALPA) .
PTCIJ is a non-governmental organisation, founded in 2014, to promote a truly independent media landscape that advances fundamental human rights, good governance and accountability in West Africa through investigative journalism, open data and civic technology.
The Deputy programme director of PTCIJ, Adedeji Adekunle, said the tree planting campaign was organised in a bid to commemorate the International Day of Forests with the hope to broaden the awareness of tree planting.
The campaign, he said, includes afforestation, encouraging replacement of trees — reforestation, consequences of deforestation, as well as planting the culture of ‘green environment’ in the grassroot level.
“The activities are aimed at addressing and providing a better understanding of the forest-food nexus, in relation to food security, hunger and nutrition challenges,” he said
He said events like this will help to reduce the alarming rate of deforestation, as it would help sensitise people on the environmental impacts of indiscriminate felling of trees.
Exotic economic trees — oranges, guava and mangoes, coupled with ornamental tree species were planted at strategic locations within the schools premises by students under the supervision of flower experts.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests in 2012.
At the global level, on this day, the programme is usually promoted by the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with governments, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other relevant organisations in the field.
According to the United Nations, forests cover one-third of the earth’s landmass, performing vital functions around the world. About 1.6 billion people, including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures depend on forests for their livelihood, medicine, fuel, food and shelter.
The Day celebrates and raises awareness on the importance of all types of forests. On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organise activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.
The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2020 is “Forests and Biodiversity; Too precious to lose”.
One of the discussants at Lightway International School, Toyin Osadolor, Secretary to AFNALPA, said plants help to offset carbon monoxide. She urged the students to inculcate the habit of planting trees as doing so, could be likened to someone saving a life.
“We have to go back to our beginning where God kept us — the Garden. When you plant a tree, you’re helping yourself as well as other people out there”
Also, while delivering her keynote address, on the significant roles of trees towards curbing climate change, Oladosu Adenike, founder of lead climate, said trees help mitigate the effects of climate change. She said trees help in the absorption of excess carbon monoxide (Co) in the environment.
“We’re here today to encourage you not to cut down trees, because when you cut down trees, you’re harming yourself, not only the environment. The trees give us oxygen while they get carbon dioxide from us. Whenever there is heatwave, the moment you stay under a tree you’ll feel refreshed,” she noted.
Joyce Agbese, the director of Lightway Academy, said she was delighted with the initiative as “it would help reshape the mindset of students under her watch.”
In a similar manner, the vice principal of Voyage International School, Sulaiman Ayegboka, expressed appreciation to PTCIJ for the initiative.
“I want to appreciate PTCIJ for this notable idea of encouraging afforestation and the importance of trees in the society. If not for the oxygen that we get from trees, we would not be able to even live,” he said.