Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Friday directed immediate planting of 500,000 trees in 78 locations to protect the environment and promote healthy living.
Mr. Ambode, represented by his deputy, Idiat Adebule, gave the directive in Lagos at the 2017 Tree Planting Campaign organised by the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency.
The campaign had the theme: “Think Green, Plant Trees, Live Green’’.
The governor said that 6.8 million trees had been planted since the state government started the campaign in 2007.
“To mark this year’s Tree Planting Day, we are adding another 500,000 trees, which will be planted across the state.
“We must remember that trees are essential to human existence, as they provide food, shelter, remedy for all ill health and source of energy,” he said.
Mr. Ambode added that trees helped to control storm, noise pollution, water runoffs and desert encroachment.
“If we must continue to live in good health, planting of trees will be a strategy that must be embraced by all.
“This is because planting of trees is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to preserve mother earth and combat the ravaging effect of climate change.
“I urge residents and organisations to support this campaign so that, together, we can mitigate the effects of climate change and make our cities and communities healthier,” he said.
Mr. Ambode said that 570 newly trained youths had been empowered to jump-start the greening programme at the 57 council areas of the state.
He urged private developers to desist from massive deforestation for housing.
Earlier, Samuel Adejare, the state Commissioner for the Environment, said that Lagos lost its bio-diversity to developmental activities and urbanisation.
Mr. Adejare said that wetland forest reserves had depreciated due to growing population and city expansion, while felling of trees and destruction of the ecosystem thrived for socioeconomic reasons.
“The continued exploitation and destruction of our natural resources have left us with dire consequences such as global warming, ocean and sea level rise and extinction of exotic flora and fauna.
“This is why the state government is calling on all to embrace tree planting, especially during landmark events such as birthdays, burial and naming,” he said.
At another event on tree planting on Friday, Mr. Adejare warned residents of the state that anyone caught felling a tree without permission would be made to plant five, among other penalties.
He said this at the annual tree planting campaign held at the 9 Brigade Headquarters of the Nigerian Army in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Campaign theme for the year is “Think Green, Plant Trees, Live Green.’’
The exercise was organised by the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, LASPARK.
Mr. Adejare, represented by the Head, Public Affairs Unit, LASPARK, Tejumade Olufemi, reiterated that it was an offence to cut trees without permission in the state.
He said that quite a number of persons had been arrested for cutting trees without permission, and the offenders had equally been asked to replant trees as their punishment.
“What we do, first and foremost, is to write letter of warnings to the offender, and if they continue in the act, then they will be arrested and taken to mobile courts.
“Another one is that when you fell one tree, you plant five and we see to it that the trees are nurtured to life,” he said.
Mr. Adejare, however, said that residents could seek permission from LASPARK if they had any reason to fell a tree.
The commissioner said there was an ongoing sensitisation exercise to let people know the advantages of planting trees.
At that the event, Mr. Ambode said the government was embarking on a tree planting campaign as part of its efforts to sustain healthy living for residents.
The governor, represented by the Commander, 9 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Elias Attu, said: “As at today, over six million trees have been planted state wide.
“To mark this year’s tree planting day, we are adding another 500, 000 trees which will be planted simultaneously in 78 locations across the state.
“Trees are essential to human existence as they provide food, shelter, remedy for ill health and source of energy and also help to control storm water runoffs, noise pollution and prevent desert encroachment.”
Mr. Ambode noted that planting of trees would not only be an option, but a strategy that must be embraced by all.
“I have directed that Parks and Gardens Unit be resuscitated in all the 20 Local Government Areas and the 37 Local Council Development Areas to complement LASPARK.
“In addition, 570 newly trained youths have been empowered to jump-start the greening programme at the local government level,” he said.
He called on private developers in the state to support the campaign by desisting from massive deforestation in the name of site clearance for infrastructural development.
NAN reports that three trees were planted at the 9 Brigade Headquarters as part of the programme.