Nigerian specialists find solution to climate change

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Agriculture and environmental experts from across Nigeria at a seminar have outlined major ways by which countries can mitigate the effect of global climate change with its negative effects on plants, animals and the environment.

“Individuals and communities need to adopt behaviours geared towards restoring and conserving the environment, increase self-reliance, avoid unregulated forest exploitation and plant trees,” Patrick Aluko of the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan, (FRIN) said.

He spoke at a one-day national seminar on sustainable forest management and climate change in Nigeria, organised by the Nigerian Tree Planters, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) championing the cause of planting one billion trees annually in Nigeria in the next ten years for the benefit of nature, industrial prosperity and sustainable environment.

“Forest can curb global warming through aforestation, reforestation, reduced deforestation, increase the use of forest-based products such as bio-energy and durable wood products,” another expert with the National Environmental Standard and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Abuja, Sylvester Okonofua added.

The experts contended that human activities through deforestation, farming, desertification, urbanisation, industrialisation, logging and population explosion contribute to climate change around the world, noting.

This affects the atmospheric and climatic composition in terms of temperature, rainfall, relative humidity and precipitation.

The recent cyclone in Burma which claimed the lives of many and rendered several people homeless with the earthquake in China, also causing several damages to man and the current global rising food prices, experts said are the manifestation of climate change.

The industrialised counties, according to Okonofua contribute about 75 per cent to the green gas emission and global warming.

However, another expert from the Departmert of Forest Resources Management at the south west Nigerian University of Ibadan, Saka Jimoh, warned that too much concentration on timber forest product at the detriment of non-timber products to reduce effect of climate change, might be counter productive.

“It is dangerous to believe that forest is about timber alone. It comprises many species – animal and plants – all these have biological role which they play within the ecosystem.

“If you now neglect all of them in favour of timber alone, it means you are singling out only one aspect, then you destabilise the system, then you will not be able to manage it because its own nature is complex and it works effectively with its neighbour,” the university don added.

According to Bisi Rodipe, founder of the Nigerian Tree Planters Initiative, fifty years of national forestation neglect and the termination of the World Bank Afforestation Project in Nigeria has worsened the country’s aforestation and reafforestation programme.

Rodipe however expressed optimism that the one billion tree project, if pursued vigorously and given the necessary support from government and the private sector of Nigeria can join leading countries of exporters of timber products like Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia and Cameroon.

The participants identified poor funding of forestry, unlimited power of state, proliferation of agencies, duplication of duties, inadequate funding, absence of planning and obsolete legislation, as some of the obstacles for achieving sustainable forest management.

“There is the urgent need for private financing of our forestry. We need to woo more private investors, we need more tree planters and public finances need also to be channeled towards revamping the dwindling forest,” Bola Odebiyi, a former World Bank consultant said. Panapress.

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