The National Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called on government at all levels to ensure that urban planning incorporates green and woodland spaces at all stages of development.
The Acting Director General of the foundation, Dr. Joseph Onoja, said: “While developing a comprehensive reforestation strategy, we must however develop a national database of tree species indigenous to Nigeria, understand the status and plan a wholesome intervention.”
This was contained in a message to mark the 2018 World Forest Day which, he said, “provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us.”
The NCF boss noted that less than five percent of the total land area is afforested, lamenting that the sparse forest remainders are under threat following land use pressures from agriculture, infrastructure, housing and resources harvesting.
He said, “Unfortunately, there is an under-appreciation of forests by governments at all levels in Nigeria not just for their important ecosystem functions but even for human survival and sustainability as carbon sinks and oxygen pool, together with the numerous other benefits they offer.”
Onoja emphasized the importance of forests and trees, saying they “store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas.”
“Trees also improve the local climate, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 per cent. Trees reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas. Wood fuel sourced from urban trees and planted forests on the outskirts of cities provide renewable energy for cooking and heating, which reduces pressures on natural forests and our reliance on fossil fuels,” the NCF boss stated.
He further said forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people.