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The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) says Nigeria needs to plant more than 350 million trees a year to control deforestation.
NCF Chief Executive Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano said this at the 20th Memorial Lecture honoring Chief Lawal Edu, Nigeria’s foremost conservationist, in Lagos.
Aminu-Kano said Nigeria is losing between 350,000 and 400,000 hectares of forest every year, with many consequences for climate change and rising temperatures.
“We have to plant many hectares to stand still. And we can just aim to stand still at five percent of our forests as we are.
“But even if we have to stand still, 350,000 hectares of forest land will require 350 million trees a year to keep us where we are.
“So you can see we need to plant over 350 million trees if we’re going to start increasing our tree cover,” he said.
Aminu-Kano also said the NCF was passionate about its big flagship project called “Green Recovery Nigeria” which involved real reforestation.
He noted that the project aimed to restore forests that Nigeria had lost since independence.
According to him, the country has lost its forest cover from around 35% to less than 5%.
“So we have to run to stay. And that means we have to plant the right trees in the right places and in the right quantities.
“If we want to have forests that will continue to provide the services that trees and forests provide us with such as clean air, clean water, food, medicine, fiber and animal feed.
“And all kinds of things that will continue to regulate and replenish our soils and our freshwater sources, so we need to act now,” he said.
On the theme of the conference, “One Earth”, Aminu-Kano said Nigeria’s population was growing rapidly with more than 200 million people competing for scarce resources.
“Our numbers are exploding and our demand on our natural resources is incredibly high.
“It’s not just that human beings have only one earth and no more, but that we have to live with the resources of it.
“But it’s also that Nigeria has only one space in the map of Nigeria that we can live in, and only the natural resources that can sustain us.
“So if we consume more than exists or consume more than we produce, then we are heading for collapse,” he said.