Picture and article by Peace Ikponmwonba
The World Environment Day (WED) held at Ramat Park, Ikpoba Hill, Benin City, Edo state, Nigeria was indeed a success. Participants included the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Noghehase Obaseki; Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Public Utilities, Edo state, Mr. A.I. Omoruyi; Director of Ogba Zoo, Sir Andy Ehanire; Head of Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Dr. G.U. Emelue and other notable staff/lecturers of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Benin, amongst others.
Effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity and its remedy to ensure environmental sustainability
The guest speaker of the event was Chief Giwa Bisi Rodipe, (the Nigerian tree planter) who gave a lecture on the “Effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity and its remedy to ensure environmental sustainability”.
Chief Giwa Bisi Rodipe gave an extensive lecture on environmental degradation as the disintegration of the earth or deterioration of the environment through consumption of assets, for example, air, water and soil. He noted that the environment belongs to all living beings and thus is important for all as everybody is affected by environmental issue like climate change, global warming, depletion of the ozone layer dwindling forest resources, energy resources, loss of global biodiversity etcetera.
He also stated the contributions of forestry to national economy, challenges of forest resources in Nigeria, causes of environmental degradation, effect of environmental degradation on biodiversity, human activities and their effects on environment, and the need for forest conservation in Nigeria stating that “a fast-track nationally subsidized tree planting investment programme of 1,000,000,000 (one billion) trees annually for 10 years to increase Nigeria forest land area from the present 2% to 40% and have a sustainable forest management structure put in place is a solution to the ongoing mindless deforestation and mismanagement of our forest”.
He said “national forest policy without national will and national commitment will be meaningless”.
Keynote address by the Executive Governor of Edo state
The Governor stated that the WED theme encourages us to get outdoor and visit nature to appreciate its beauty and significance and to take forward the call to protect the earth that we all share dearly. He noted that the amount of illegal logging and deforestation in Edo state particularly in the last few years is alarming and as a government they will not allow this to continue to happen.
First thing they have done is to create a separate Forest Commission and set up a separate arm of the Ministry, an agency for parks and gardens while creating more parks. He said that they have also set up a Green-squad who will work with the Forest Commission on a target that within the next four years, over 250,000 trees will be planted in Benin City. They are also planting five hectares of forest trees in five Local Government Areas in Edo state as well as acting on the issue of flood and erosion, sanitation and urban renewal.
Lastly, he concluded that the environment should be our concern and not just the responsibility of the government alone but each and every one of us should join the global effort in saving the mother earth for our sake and that of our future generations.
Goodwill messages by Dr. G.U. Emelue and Sir Andy Ehanire
According to Dr. G.U. Emelue, the people and communities must have a role to play in forestry and must be a stakeholder in all these so they will have the consciousness to protect it.
Sir Andy Ehanire made reference to the damage done to Ogba zoological gardens as a result of encroachment, illegal logging etcetera. He stated that the Forestry Commission will be an important forestry landmark in Edo state, Nigeria.
The event cumulated with a joint tree planting exercise in the park.
The author, Peace Ikponmwonba, is a graduate of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria and a Member of the IFSA Online Editorial. peikponmwonba(a)gmail.com