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  • Writer's pictureOlukunle Ogundele



Sola kolawole delivering speech at the 2018 International Day of Forest (Photo Galerry for more pictures from the IDF )

March 21 is set aside annually to commemorate the International Day of Forests. The International Day of Forests is held to raise awareness on the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security.

A lot of friends have asked us why we are so much interested in commemorating International Day of Forests and why we have deployed so much energy and resources to mobilize schools to mark this annual event. Many do not know that this was originally the idea of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger in both developed and developing countries.

This goes to show how important and strategic the forest is to human existence and the effort to defeat hunger globally. We are in trouble if we continue to take our forests for granted.

Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people - including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures - depend on

forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter. Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals,

plants and insects. Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.

Ten years ago, we had about 3 trillion trees in the world and 4 billion hectares of forests but today, it is estimated that 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. There are other alarming statistics but the most important thing right now is how can we fix the situation? Deforestation alone accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Many are even not aware that the remote causes of the recent escalation in the conflict between farmers and herdsmen are deforestation and desertification. This is why we insist that the sustainable management of all types of forests (whether Boreal, Tropical or Temperate) is at the heart of unlocking challenges of conflict affected, developing (like Nigeria) and developed countries, for the benefit of current and future generations. Activities expected to take place on the International Day of Forests include tree-planting and other community-level events as well as social media outreach.

The theme for this year is “Forests & Sustainable Cities.” This was what informed our decision to engage children in schools as a new dimension is environmental advocacy. If we let this children know very early the consequences of deforestation and the importance of tree planting, then we will have an army to secure the future of our forests while enjoying their life so to speak in the cities.

Commemorating the International Day of Forests is part of the T.R.E.E. Initiative advocacy strategies to draw public attention to the dangers of indiscriminate tree cutting. We are doing everything within our reach to raise national awareness on the negative consequences of deforestation.

As an Initiative, tree planting (afforestation, agroforestry and re-vegetation) remains part of our primary focus alongside food security and sustainable livelihood. Our activities all revolve principally around climate change mitigation. There is a need to continuously engage ourselves on the reality of climate change occasioned to a large extent by massive indiscriminate cutting of trees for domestic and commercial purposes.

Recently we all saw a tip of the larger consequences when all across Ibadan, Oyo State the water level dropped and wells became dry. We also saw how some birds migrated into this city in large numbers to feed on Mango and Pawpaw. We also saw just before the early rain how snakes and some strange insects began to invade people’s houses. We have told those who care to listen, that there is nothing spiritual about all these strange sights and visitations. The truth is, man invaded and destroyed their habitats and they have equally come to share space with man in the city.

It will get worse if we don’t see this as an emergency. I need not mention the intensity of sunlight over the last few weeks. The heat and the health implications can only be appreciated if you visit hospitals across the city.

We will do ourselves a whole lot of good if we adopt the tree planting lifestyle. City leaders and managers in particular must adopt ‘Urban Afforestation as a policy.’ We must also discourage the cutting of trees without replacement. We are pushing, that for every single tree logged, 5 should be planted and nurtured as replacement. And this is not just about planting trees, we must grow these trees.

We want to thank all the Teachers, Head teachers, Principals, Proprietors and Proprietress of all the schools in attendance here today. We actually invited 100 selected schools across the city.

We cannot but express our profound gratitude to the Chancellor, the Pro-Chancellor, Management and Staff of Lead City University Ibadan for hosting and supporting this event at short notice. I must say we are impressed and absolutely grateful. T.R.E.E. Initiative will reciprocate this gesture in a big way, and it will be very soon. We encourage other tertiary institutions in the country particularly Government owned institutions to emulate Lead City University. There is a lot to learn from here.

And for all the hundreds of final year students who are part of this year’s program as volunteers, we celebrate you. We urge you not to relent. We have to take volunteering to a higher level if we want to see our nation become great. Don’t let it end here. We invite as many as will be willing to join us in this campaign.

And to all the children here today, the future is in your hands.

Plant trees, more trees and don’t stop dreaming. God bless us all. Thank you.

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