World Environment Day: Experts lament indiscriminate falling of trees in Nigeria

A Professor of Genetics and deputy vice-chancellor(Academics and Research), University of Lagos(UNILAG), Akoka,  Mrs Bolanle Oboh; the general manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency(LASEPA),  Dr Babatunde Ajayi and former Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Femi Oyisan, among others have decried the increasing spate at which Nigerians indiscriminately cutting down trees in the country, saying the practice is greatly working against the environment and therefore

They raised this concern on Wednesday at an event organised by Trinity University, Yaba, Lagos, to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day, which has the theme “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resistance.”

Delivering a keynote speech, Prof Oboh, a teacher and researcher, explained that although a number of human activities are causing global warming and climate change, the contribution of indiscriminate tree felling is huge.

She said it was not only the trees in the forests and human habitations that people cut down indiscriminately without planting new ones but also carry out many other activities that threaten the environment.

She explained that the consequences of all those activities are huge and manifest in various forms, including food insecurity, flooding, pest invasion, biodiversity loss, famine, decreased mortality, ecosystem damage, and soil erosion, among others.

She said that was why the fight against land degradation, desertification, and drought in Nigeria and elsewhere across the globe is a joint one and demands multi-faceted approaches.

She, however, pointed out that though academics have great roles to play in this regard by deploying their expertise in research and knowledge dissemination to address those challenges, the active involvement of other stakeholders, including the policymakers, civil society groups, and local communities, is greatly required.

In his own contribution, the General Manager of LASEPA, Dr Babatunde Ajayi, emphasised that Lagos State is very committed to ensuring the environment is well protected from any activities that could harm the atmosphere, earth, and its inhabitants.

He said in Lagos State for example, indiscriminate felling of trees either in one’s compound or neighbourhood or any other part of the state is a criminal act.

He said the state is serious about the legislation such that any individual, corporate body or institution that is found culpable of cutting down trees irrespective of the reason without express permission from the relevant government agencies will be duly punished.

According to him, such penalities vary but include payment of fines and planting of multiple trees in replacement.
He noted that part of the environmental policies of the state is for every property owner and developer to have a greenish area in their premises as a way of contributing to “protect the environment and save the earth.”

Reminiscencing on the past, the former Ondo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Femi Oyisan, who is a member of Governing Council of Trinity University, recalled that there was strict government regulation of trees in the past particularly during the colonial era and some years after political independence such that people could not cut down trees indiscriminately unlike now.

According to him, in those days, trees in the forests, especially the reserved areas, were numbered, notwithstanding their size, and any cut down without permission would be easily detected.

But nowadays, apart from there being a huge scarcity of trees in the forests, people cut down the few available ones without planting new ones as replacements.

He noted that trees preservation is not only about the economy but for biodiversity sake.

In his earlier remark, Trinity University’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Clement Kolawole, said everyone has a great role to play in protecting the environment and making it friendly to both humans and animals.

He said the university would not renege in contributing to knowledge dissemination on environmental issues in and around the campus but would also be actively involved in advocacy campaigns towards a safe and healthy environment.

The high points of the event were the planting of some new trees and the inauguration of the environmental club in the university.

The vice-chancellor said the move is geared towards sustaining a friendly environment on campus and in the larger society, which will benefit everyone.

Member of Governing Council, Trinity University, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Femi Oyisan(planting a tree) with Vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Clement Kolawole; Registrar, Oyejide; guest speaker and deputy VC, UNILAG, Prof Bolanle Oboh at an event to commmemorate the 2024 World Environment Day at Trinity University, Yaba,  on Wednesday.

Source: Tribune Online