Officials of the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and other relevant groups, on Tuesday, took tree planting awareness to public schools in Abuja.
The move was part of activities mapped out to mark the International Day of Forests (IDF) this year.
The first leg of the day’s activities was the tree planting campaign movement, while the second phase had experts on Twitter to discuss issues on this year’s theme of “Forests and Health”.
These activities were championed by the CJID through its Agricultural Journalism and Climate Change Project in partnership with the Association of Flower Nurseries and Landscaping Practitioners in Abuja (AFNALPA), the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP) and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
The programme director of CJID, Akintunde Babatunde, hinted that the tree planting campaign was organised in a bid to commemorate the International Day of Forests with the intention to further intensify the awareness of tree planting and its benefits among young people in Nigeria.
“Within the past three years, through this initiative, we have visited and planted vibrant trees in at least eight different schools in Abuja, but this would be our first visit to public schools,” he said.
Mr Babatunde said the occasion of World Forest Day has again availed the center and its partners another opportunity to plant the culture of “green environment” in the mindset of the present and future generations, thus encouraging afforestation, replacement of trees, and sensitising young people about the consequences of deforestation amidst depleting forest covers in Nigeria and around the world.
At the two schools visited, the group encouraged young Nigerian students to adopt and inculcate the habit of planting, preserving and nurturing trees within their environment to protect biodiversity and reverse the effects of climate change in the country.
This was done by educating the students on the benefits of having trees within their surroundings and conservation of existing forest covers in Nigeria, so as to reduce global warming that is drivingclimate change effects and food insecurity.
Economic trees such Avocado, Almond and Cocoa tree species were planted at strategic locations within the school’s premises by students under the supervision of flower experts. Likewise, cash gifts were awarded to students who answered correctly questions during the brief interactions held.
Commenting on the events, GIFSEP’s team lead, David Terungwa, said the tree-planting activities and action is very critical towards reducing greenhouse gas emission in the country.
“The event is coming a few hours after the IPCC report on the damaging effects of climate change. We are not doing enough,” he said.
He said Nigerians have an opportunity with nature-based solutions and that one of such solutions is forest.
“I am super delighted that we are coaching the young ones to grow trees on this day,” Mr Terungwa said.
The principal of government secondary school at Wuse zone three axis of the capital city, Funmilayo Kayode, commended the initiative of coming to encourage students to plant trees in the school.
“When we were growing up, trees were all around us and we hardly fall sick,” she said
She said the students have gotten the message and that she hopes that they would be able to put the tree-planting lessons into use.
International Day of Forests
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 21 March as the International. It has been commemorated ever since.
Every year, several events and celebrations are held across countries to mark this special day across the world.
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.
The Day is meant to celebrate and as well raise awareness on the significance of all types of forests so as to achieve sustainable livelihoods across habitats.
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, as well as conducting thorough awareness campaigns among citizens.
The theme for this year’s event is tagged “Forest and Health.”
According to the United Nations, since 2010, an estimated 4.7 million hectares of forest is lost yearly to deforestation, which are usually triggered by anthropogenic activities like agriculture, road construction, urbanisation and lumbering.
As a result, the UN noted that the past decades have witnessed a remarkable decline in the number of forested lands across the world, reducing the impacts of forests as an agent of decarbonization and natural wildlife protection.
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Between 1990 and 2015, Nigeria loses at least 163,310 hectares of forest annually, world deforestation and forest loss data showed.
Meanwhile, about 1.6 billion people, including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures are said to depend on forests for their livelihood, medicine, fuel, food and shelter.
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