By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The need for planting of trees as means of restoring a healthy ecosystem, promoting nature conservation as well as reversing the trend of environmental devastation has again be emphasized.
Dr Joseph Onoja, Director, Technical Programme, Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) stated this at an event he announced that the organization plans to plant between 45,000 and 70,000 trees in Anambra State as part of the Natural Forestry Trust Fund (NFTF) mandate.
Onoja stated this at a two-day Anambra Forest-Landscape Restoration Action Plan Workshop in Awka, the state capital, on Friday, July 23, 2021.
The workshop was in collaboration with the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka.
According to him “We all know the devastation that is happening in Anambra in terms of flooding, erosion and other environmental problems. We have also discovered that the root cause is habitat degradation.
“So we are in partnership with NAU to hold this workshop and come up with a plan to advocate the buy-in of policy makers to stop and reverse the trend of the devastation.
“Also, as part of NFTF mandate to plant a number of trees across the country, we are looking at planting between 45,000 and 70, 000 trees in Anambra and some communities started indicating interest.
“At the end of the workshop, some officers will stay back to ensure this project is carried out in collaboration with communities, so they can take ownership of the trees when we leave,” he said.
Onoja said that trees promoted healthier ecosystem, which in turn ensured richer biodiversity, yielded greater benefits such as more fertile soils, nature-nurturing human atmosphere, among others.
Also speaking, Mr Thomos Fameso, a representative from Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), called for community engagement in the seed collection, planting, nurturing and protection of the trees.
Fameso also advocated the planting of seeds that would yield non-timber forest products such as fruits, Belanites oil, honey, fooder, Arabic gum and others that would provide social cultural and economic values to the communities.
He also called for the establishment of community-based watch groups to patrol and protect the trees and avoid any form of encroachment.
In his remarks, Prof. Charles Esimone, Vice-Chancellor, NAU, said the institution planned to establish a natural zoo, a botanical garden, a golf course and training of forest patrol guards as part of its afforestation programmes.
“We are consciously planning these programmes in collaboration with private organisations to restore, protect and preserve our environment.
“We have also designed a curriculum on forest education that will be adopted by all faculties to enlighten students and youths on the importance of nature conservation,” he said.