By Tayo Ogunbiyi
ACCORDING to climate experts, human-induced global deforestation is responsible for 18-25 per cent of global climate change. The United Nations, World Bank and other leading non-governmental organizations are, therefore, encouraging reforestation and other activities in Lagos that promote tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Presently, the focus of the world is gradually drifting beyond the ecosystem services provided by trees to man, to the vital role they play in empowering people, promoting economic growth and combating climate change. The 14th session of UN Forum on Forests held in May 2019 at the United Nations’ headquarters, New York, where international and regional organisations and stakeholders took stock of the progress in the implementing the UN Strategic Plan for forest 2030, highlighted the critical role of trees in a healthy planet.
The strategic plan and the Global Forest Goals of the UNFF14 as a framework for global participation in greening provide a blueprint to promote forest contributions in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. The Lagos State Government has been a strong participant in the global effort in safeguarding the earth through its various environmental sustainability project. One enduring and conspicuous approach the state government has adopted is the greening project. The greening project is the systematic and comprehensive method of promoting tree planting and regeneration of degraded urban areas. Halting and reversing deforestation
The relentless stride at establishing a culture of greening among citizens has placed Lagos among the notable green cities in the world today. This effort was recognized when it was mentioned alongside Johannesburg as one of the most improved and green compliant cities during the Environment Summit (RIO 20+) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012.
With different tree-planting crusades, the State government is gradually addressing the growing apprehension on climate change by improving the biological uniqueness of its local ecosystem and upholding the social value in communities across the State. Also, Public-Private Partnership, PSP, model has improved its greening profile as several corporate institutions are currently investing in the landscaping and beautification of several open places across the state.
Building on the remarkable antecedent of successive administrations on greening, the Sanwo-Olu administration has so far shown enough commitment to expand the project to further accentuate the position of Lagos State in global affairs of a sustainable environment. In its Themes Agenda, health and environment policy of the government is modelled to improve the socio-economic credential of the State.
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This ambition was recently captured at the 2019 Tree Planting Sensitisation Campaign held in all 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development areas of the State. This comprehensive exercise, which was midwifed by the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, LASPARK, was a corresponding concept of greening revolution as it is been celebrated in major cities across the world to make the mother earth a fruitful entity for humanity. All strata of the society participated in the massive tree planting campaign; media organisations, traditional institutions, religious groups, corporate bodies, community development associations, non-governmental organisations, students, National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, trade unions, market associations including foreign diplomats were actively involved in the exercise.
Over fifty thousand trees of 32 species were planted statewide in the process, making the total number of trees in the State exceed eight million. Thus, the ambition to have 10 million trees adorning the nooks and crannies of the State by 2020 is very much alive. Tree planting advocacy in markets and other public places has also been successfully executed as the act of tree planting and nurturing has been incorporated into businesses and social engagements.
Through the “Me and my Tree Initiative” and the creation of “Green Clubs” in some public schools in the state, the prospect of a greener Lagos has been enlivened. The bringing on board the younger generation to join in the movement for a sustainable environment is profound and eternal. More so, the agency has trained and empowered over of 500 ‘Green Hands’ in all the LGAs and LCDAs of the state. These green-conscious individuals are presently maintaining open spaces statewide. Interestingly, this greening movement has generated over 200,000 employment opportunities for horticulturists, pruners, gardeners, welders, tanker drivers and security personnel among others across the state.
Making tree planting a vital component of the urban lifestyle is a progressive stride towards optimizing economic values of green spaces in the state. And developing new opportunities around green spaces to propel the green economy is another developmental policy of the State. The green economy would undoubtedly provide the platform for this ambitious city to promote its green credentials, improve citizens’ health and sustain the environment. To achieve this, changes are needed in the urban planning strategies and a push for an increase in green spaces is highly imperative. Non-state actors and network of citizens must establish the right attitude that would support Government policy on achieving an eco-sustainable development.
Moreover, the government has stated that certain percentages of our property must be preserved for greening as stated in the State’s Physical Planning Law and would be re-launching the ‘One House, One Tree’ campaign across the State. The campaign is to ensure that every house in Lagos possesses at least one tree which is believed to intensify the greening project.
The message from Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu at the 2019 tree planting was very apt: “When we make it clean, let us also make it green and when we make it green, we have made it safer and healthier for the generality of our people. This is our perfect dream for a prosperous Lagos”.
Since every tree makes a difference, every person that plants a tree also makes a difference. Since every tree makes a difference, every person that plants a tree also makes a difference. For us to achieve a friendly environment that we desire, it is a tradition that everyone must embrace. Considering the simple and inexpensive nature of tree planting as well as its numerous advantages, the time to embrace the culture is now.
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