Tackling Climate Change Through Tree Planting


The importance of the emergence of tree before the advent of man on earth is not lost on modern science, which recognises that without tree manufacturing oxygen, life on earth would have been impossible. As the entire world is today focusing attention on global warming and its attendant effects on climatic changes, it is imperative that the public be more educated and enlightened on efficacy of trees. Although planting of trees has long been a suggestion to better the earth, there is a desperate need for sustained action at making it not just an annual ritual as it is being practiced in most states of the country but what everybody, especially land owners, must embrace if we are not to take the critical phenomenon of climate change for granted.

Climate experts believe that human-induced global deforestation is responsible for 18-25% of global climate change. The United Nations, World Bank and other leading non-governmental organizations are therefore encouraging re-forestation, avoided de-forestation and other projects that encourage tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change.

It is a common knowledge that tree planting is a very simple and less expensive universal approach to tackling the threat of climate change. But it is ironic that as simple as this seems, a greater percentage of people in the society pays little or no attention to it. Probably, the purpose is still not yet understood or as usual, with the Nigerian mentality, we are waiting for a time when we will have to take reactive action.

Trees have been scientifically proven to be very useful as first line of defence in the fight against global warming as they absorb the carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere, replenish the air with oxygen and also contribute immensely to the aesthetics of the environment. They also check erosion and stem the tide of windstorm by serving as wind breakers. On another note, trees are brilliant cleansers. They remove other pollutants through the stomates in the leaf surface. It is considered that trees act as what some call a Carbon Sink, storing the gas in its branches, trunk, leaves etc. instead of leaving the gas to become free floating and further polluting the atmosphere. In this natural function alone, trees directly reduce the growth of the Greenhouse Effect and counteract Global Warming.

Trees also serve the purpose of overall air quality enhancer, and a much needed one at that. They provide natural habitats for many small creatures, and reduce the temperature by providing shade. All in all, a tree is not just a beautiful creature standing amongst the many phenomenal picturesque settings of this world, it is a powerful and vital tool that directly ensures our survival.

In Nigeria, we don’t appreciate preparedness and prevention of disaster but wait for problem before taking action despite our weak infrastructural development. While it is possible to blame government for pathetic health facilities, pitiable educational condition and weak infrastructure, climate change challenge is a collective responsibility. Tackling it must therefore, involve every segment of the society. But the initiative to start and mobilize other stakeholders is that of a responsive and responsible government. It is in the light of this that one would have to give kudos to the Lagos state government. Just like the state government is pro-active with its internally generated revenue as evident in its ability to pay the new minimum wage to it workers, it is also taking a leading role in its approach to the climate change phenomenon.

This has manifested in the greening and beautification of open spaces, decrepit loops, verges and medians across the state. The Fashola administration is unrelenting in redeeming its promise to bring back as much greenery as possible to Lagos. For instance, on September 2nd 2008, over250, 000 trees were planted state wide. On that occasion, the governor set a mark of planting 1 million trees in four years and declared July 14 of every year as commemorative day for tree planting exercise. Gladly, by the first anniversary in July 2009, the state government had already planted 1 million trees and again raises the target to 5 million trees in another four years. The state government has also been able to bring the corporate organizations and individuals into the project as partners such as Equitorial Trust Bank, Mr. Biggs, and Nigerian Breweries have bought into the vision. Private individuals were also encouraged to plant trees around their houses while it is now unlawful to fell trees in Lagos without written approval from the Ministry of the Environment.

In 2009, the State Government conducted a tree tagging, enumeration and identification exercise which included trees in Ikeja GRA, Apapa and Ikoyi. At the end of the exercise, 3,558 trees were counted in the three zones and they were tagged with botanical and local names as well as usefulness which included aesthetics, medicinal purposes. The exercise has been extended to cover the entire State. This will also assist in determining areas that require replenishment and how many of such trees should be planted to stem degradation.

Another unique area where the state government is leading in the tree planting campaign is in the launching of climate change clubs in schools as part of actions taken to sensitize the younger generation on climate change and its impact on the society. Result from schools show that this initiative is effective as the popularity of the climate change theme song in the state’s public schools is soaring high across the state.

Since every tree makes a difference, every person that plants a tree also makes a difference. For us to achieve the friendly environment that we desire, it is a tradition that everyone must embrace. Individuals, corporate organisations, religious bodies and all well meaning Nigerians must key into the tree planting project. Considering the simple and inexpensive nature of tree planting as well as its numerous advantages, the time to embrace the culture is now.


•Razak Musbau is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy.

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