By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
To check deforestation, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik), Awka, and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) have entered into a collaboration to plant more than 20,000 trees in Anambra State.
The partnership which also aim to protect the Nigerian environment and restore forest richness and sustainable utilisation within the university campus was launched at the Awka Campus of the university on Friday, October 2, 2020.
The Vice-Chancellor of Unizik, Professor Charles Esimone, said the programme will be executed in the Awka and Ifiteogwari campuses of Unizik.
Esimone said the exercise became necessary because of the frequent felling of trees which adversely affects the environment.
He said: “We are partnering with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation to plant trees to turn the deforested areas into forests.
“Considering the fact that the staff and students of Unizik take conservation seriously, we expect the programme to be a huge success.”
The VC noted that negative human activities have eroded the beautiful habitat in the university.
“We will no longer allow laxity on the issue of environmental protection.
“We also have a programme to ensure its sustainability as we will introduce forest guards who will ensure that the environment is no longer abused,” he said.
He said that the NCF will train the forest guards who will serve as a task force.
The Unizik VC said the school has come up with a policy to check further deforestation in place noting that violators would be sanctioned.
According to him, the main Unizik campus in Awka has more than 500 hectares of land while another 320 hectares are at the Faculty of Agriculture in the Ifiteogwari/Umueje campus.
He said the main campus in Awka has in its master plan an expanse of land to develop biological rich areas for zoological, botanical and forestry gardens for the departments of Zoology, Botany and Forestry/Wild life conservation.
Esimone solicited the assistance of the NCF to further assess and develop Unizik biodiversity potentials.
“With greater support and involvement of the NCF, the sustainable utilisation of the university’s natural resources in the areas of eco-tourism and environmental education model for Anambra State could be achieved,” he said.
Dr. David Onoja, who represented the director general of the NCF at the event, said that the objective of the programme was to enhance the landscape aesthetics and watershed conservation of the area.
He noted that, when fully developed, the scheme would restore degraded forest areas within the campus and ensure the conservation of biological diversity in the university.
“It is also meant to provide a conservation area within the university campus to serve as a base for massive tree planting exercise in the institution,” Onoja said.