John Adams, Minna
The Ahmodu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, has signified its readiness to partner with the Kaduna State Government to address the problem of desertification occasioned by indiscriminate felling of trees.
Already, the university through its community intervention programme being carried out by post-graduate students of the Department of Theatre and Performing Art, donated 1,000 different species of trees to be planted in Kargi, Kubawo Local Government.
Kargi was chosen as one of the first beneficiaries of the afforestation programme in recognition of its friendliness and for always providing enabling environment for students of the institution who usually undertake their intervention work within the community. Kargi is one of the many communities in the state under threat from desertification due to indiscriminate felling of trees by the people mostly for domestic purposes.
A visit to Kargi tells a story of a community facing danger of soil erosion, declining soil fertility, flooding and climate change with heaps of wood in every home as a result indiscriminate tree felling.
The felling of these trees, the people said has become inevitable because it is the only available and cheapest means of cooking, as the price of kerosene, they complained is beyond their reach.
Chairman, Kargi Youth Development Association, (KAYODA), Awwal Aminu, said: “The felling of trees in the community will continue for now because there is no cheaper alternative means of cooking by the people except the fire wood.”
Kargi, with an estimated population of 200,000 relied solely on firewood for domestic cooking, but while trees are being felled there is no deliberate attempt to replant for future. It is in realisation of this that the university, through its community intervention programme by the post graduate students embarked on tree planting exercise and awareness creation among the people on the danger of continued cutting down the trees without any attempt to replaced them.
Mr Steve Daniel, lecturer, who led the students to the community for the intervention programme said the institution embarked on a similar exercise in Zuru, Kebbi State, where over 500 trees of different species were distributed to 10 communities for planting:
“Today, the institution is happy because the feedback we are getting is that those communities in Zuru Emirate have bought into tree planting. After our visit to the communities to carry out mobilisation programme, the people realised the danger in tree felling and the importance of tree planting to the environment. Apart from the students intervention programme, the university is ready to partner with the state government towards tree planting to address desertification.”
In a symbolic presentation of the trees to the District Head of Kargi, represented by Kangiwa Zazzau, Alhaji Tanimu Haruna, for onward distribution to various public institutions, villages and homes, Daniel said: “Desertification is dangerous to man, animals and properties.”
“Increased rate of building construction resulting from the rise in population and income, has led to a rapid rise in domestic consumption of timber and fire wood hence the continuous felling of trees. Forests are large areas of land with trees and constitute important aspect of Nigeria’s vegetation, the importance of the forest to man cannot be over emphasised.
“Trees provide useful products such as wood for fuel, provide breeding ground for animals provide fibre for paper and textiles. Medicines are derived from the barks and leaves of some plants. Forests help check erosion.”
While emphasising the need for the people to cultivate the habit of planting trees to replace the felled ones, he reminded them: “Trees act as storm breaks, thereby protecting the towns and villages from destruction.
“It is sad that we are losing vegetation cover and there is absolute need to make concerted effort to grow more trees because the more the merrier.”
Representative of the District Head, Mallam Haruna, said: “The community is seeking collaboration with the university, which is one of the best in the North in terms of cultural development so as to help develop Kargi rich culture to an international standard.
“All over the world, culture of the people has served as the foundation and vehicle for development. The problem with the third world countries like Nigeria lies in their inability to use their culture to achieve meaningful development.
“In Kargi here, we cherish and value our culture. Nobody can run away from his culture. We must go back to our culture as a basis for development. Our culture is in crisis today because we have abandoned it and embrace the white man’s culture and trying to use it as basis for our development.”
However, from the South to the North and East to West, desertification resulting from indiscriminate felling of trees remains a great challenge with no end insight. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimated that Nigerians destroy about 600,000 hectares of her forest every year through careless exploitation and farming.
The Nigerian Conservative Foundation (NCF), reported that Nigeria lost 96 per cent of its natural forest cover and deforestation rate is at an alarming 11.1 per cent per annum. This prevalent problem of deforestation, fragmentation and land conversion for agricultural purpose and other use affected adversely the forest biodiversity in the country.