Tribune Mond'7' 6 June, 2011
EN deforestation is perpetrated, a whole gamut of consequences is precipitated. This ranges from so il infertility to g lobal warming. Depletion of forests increases th e risk of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere with the resultant effect of the re duction of the ozone _ layer, which leads to global warming. Global warming is said to pose a serious danger to civilisation because of its devastating effects on the ecosystem, on which human existence is dependent. christened 2011 Also, deforestation changes the quantity of International Year water that percolates into Forests. Similarly, the theme the soil. The effect of this of the World Environment is the reduction of eva pora tion and evapoDay celebrated yesterday was transpiration, the 'Forests: Nature at your processes that take place from the trees and plants. service'. Sulairnon Olaruewaju As a result, the energy lO,Oks at the nation's from ' the sun is a ble to wasting forests and heat up the earth surface, which increases efforts to sa ve te mpera tures . Thus, them. esse ntial nutri e nts required for the fertility of the soil, such as nitrogen, are washed out of the soil with th e soil los ing its fertility. The import of this is that deforestation can endanger food security. Forests a re vital to life. Humans need the oxygen released by green plants durin g photosynthesis, whi le they a lso require the carbo n dio xide released by humans. It is for this reason the forests are referred to as the earth's "The services forests provide are essentially to lungs. According to experts, forests playa key role in every aspect of our quality of life. And the answer to supplying the wa ter for nearl y 50 p e r cent of the sustainable forest management, moving towards a world's largest cities and regulate the destructive green economy, lies in our hands." impact of storms, floods and fires. Products from the While commenting on the importance of forests to forests are also used in diverse ways to make life easy .human li ves, Dr Aj ib ola Aluko, Headquarte rs for. man. Director, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Hbwever, the significance of forests appears lost to said, "Forest is of great importance to mankind. From many people as they are consistently destroyed. A what we wear to what we eat to what we use at home report says that 13 million hectares of forest are or in the office and the currency that we spend, we destroyed artnually. have to rely on produce from the forests. We cannot It is not in doubt that the need to s top the reckless discount the importance of the forests in our daily d est ru ctio n of the world's forests informed th e activities." decision of the U!1ited Nations (UN) to name the Reiterating th e significance of forests to the current yea r, 2011; as the Inte rnational Year of economy, 路h e said pulp, paper, processed wood, Forests. With the them e as Forests for People, the cellophane, plastics, rayon, nylon, tyres, among other UN came up with fo ur global objectives on forests items, were all from the forest. v iz; reverse loss of forest cover, e nhance economic, He added tha t 60 per cent of the earth surface was socia] and environmental benefits; increase area of o nce covered with forest. He, howe ver, noted that with s us tainably managed fores ts and mobilise increased civilization came deforestation which had reduced financial resources. These have been the focus of the the world's forest to about 30 per cent. campaign to preserve the forests since January. Aluko said deforestation was a threat to the How ever, th e United Na tions Environment country's social and economic well-being because a Programme (UNEP), the United Nations agency in lot of revenue was being lost due to the intentional or charge of the en vironment, with respons ibility for unintentional deforestation activities embarked upon organising the World Environment Day (WED) by Nigerians. H e added that deforestation was partly celebrated g lobally on June 5, chose Forests: Nature responsible for the erosion that had become a very at your service as the them e for this.,.year's WED, serious challenge to the people of the South-Eastern mark ed yesterday as a further .proof of th e part of the country. co mmitm ent o f the United 路 Nations to th e "When the trees go, you give room to all sorts of preservation o f the forests. problems, especially erosion . The trees hold the water According to a s tate m ent issued by the UNEP, that could hav e caused erosion. Apart fr o m th e "Conserving fo rests and expanding them need to be physical effects of erosion that we see, another effect recog niseo as a business opportunity. When we add is that it deprives the so il of its nutrition. That means it up, an in ves tm e nt of US$30 billion fi g hting we don't get as much y ield as we ought to get from deforestation and d egradation could provide a re turn th e soil. When the trees go, you expose the so il to of US$2.5 trillion in new products and services. overheating from the sun and this can lead to globa l " Furthermorer targeted inves tments in forestry warming," he said. co uld generate up to 10 million new jobs around the He, however, added that th e deforestation world . Already, many leaders are g limps ing the experience in Nigerja was not wholly man made as '7--'''potential for renewa bl e e n e rgy a nd na tu re- based the desert encroachment from the northern part of assets, but for transformation to happen, fores ts need the country was not reall y a consequence of hum an ., to become a universal political priority. activies but a natural occurrence. .
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Speaking on what co uld be done to reduce deforestation in the country, Aluko said there must be a deliberate effort to ensure the preservation of the forests. According to him, "In some countries, you need the pe rmission of some government agencies for you to cut a tree. Unlike w hat we have in this country where anyone ca n just get up and cut down a tree, before a tree is cut in some countries the government must know about it. The import of this is that in such countries, there is a deliberate effort by the government to protect and preserve the forests. Why will a government do that? Because it knows the importance of 路 the trees . W e ha ve to make it a deliberate policy of the government to preserve the trees. If we do not ha ve a deliberate policy, anything is possib le and we m ay just wake up one day to realise that the trees are gone." He added that the govefnment should also insist that whoever cut a tree should plant a rep lacement. "We know that some organisations depend on trees as their raw materials, so they w ill always need to cut down trees. But such o rgani sat ions are aware that for them to continually ha ve s upply of trees, there must be a replacement m echani s m for trees cut. But ,this will not h appen w ithout enforcement. So, the onus is on the government to e n force compliance," Aluko sa id . But Alhaji Yahaya Raji, a safe environment campaigner, a rgued that the effort at afforestation s hould not be left to th e government or big orga nisa tions a lone. As he put it, "No matter o ur s tations in life, each of us has a very important role to play in combatting deforestation . Since we know the importance of trees in the environment, we should make it a point of duty to plant trees. We should endeavour to plant trees in our compounds a nd even on ou r s tree ts to stop erosion and to ens u re sufficient s upply of oxygen. Tree planting sho uld not just be an effort in replacing cut trees, but must be a continu o\ls exe rcise targetted at not only beautify ing the environment but a lso putting us on a pedestal to enjoy the best of nature."