The emergence of tree before the advent of man on earth is not lost on modern science, which recognizes that without tree manufacturing oxygen, life on earth would have been impossible.

Undeniably, man and tree need each other for survival. Man needs oxygen, which is the waste product of tree, while trees need carbon-dioxide which is also a waste from man for survival.

As the nation commemorated tree-planting day last July 14, it is imperative to re-sensitize the public on the need to live with green, especially tree planting. Our focus should be on how going green could be used to confront global warming and its attendant effects on climatic changes.

It is not a surprise that Lagos State use the theme, ‘“In Harmony with Nature”, for this year’s tree planting sensitisation campaign to accentuate the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, which plays significant emphases on improving citizen’s health through a sustainable environment.

Speaking at the commemoration of the 2022 Lagos State Tree Planting Day held at the Dr. Abayomi Finnih Recreational Park, Oregun, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, stated that tree planting would continue to play a prominent role in the 21st-century architecture of environmental health in order to harmonise natural resources with health and prosperity.

The deputy governor said that trees, being life-saving investments, empower communities to increase green spaces, create opportunities for future resilience, broadly interact with nature and its resources, and make residents more sensitive to sustainability issues.

Hamzat, represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Deputy Governor, Mobolaji Daba, noted that for over a decade the tradition of tree planting across the state has contributed immensely to building a greener and healthier environment.

He stressed that this year’s occasion is no different and should be seen as another way to express love for nature while promoting a balance in the economic, social and environmental needs of the present and future generations.

Commenting on the 2022 theme, “In Harmony with Nature”, the deputy governor emphasised the need for man to protect the relationship with nature as part of his gratitude to the diverse species of living creatures including trees, which tend to be forgotten in our busy lives.

He said: “Our gratitude to the diverse species of living creatures, including trees, tends to be forgotten in our busy lives as we take for granted the interdependent web that sustains human life with clean water, food, oxygen, fertile soil, climate regulations and more”.

“Despite the positive progress on policies, science and technology, the alarm related to the health of the planet is ringing very loudly to announce that man must go into emergency mode. It must be reiterated that no city or country in the world is immune from the adverse effects of climate change”, Hamzat added.

He declared that one of the most important aspects of rearticulating human development is to be fair to nature and other living things, saying that “We cannot be developed unless our lives become reconnected and in harmony with nature”.

“It is worthy of note that climate action is now mainstream in our sectoral policies and plans. With the Lagos State Climate Action Plan (2020 – 2025), our administration is serious about incorporating climate-friendly initiatives into everything we do as a government. The Climate Action Plan encapsulates the state’s vision for combating the challenge of climate change and achieving the ultimate goal of a zero-carbon Lagos”, he stated.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, represented by the Director, Ecology and Conservation, Tolulope Adeyo, said one of the simplest ways to establish a relationship with our environment is by planting and nurturing as many trees as possible. This is why the Lagos State Tree Planting Day remains significant in the history of our dear State, as it offers us the opportunity to reach out to Lagosians and encourage them to plant trees”.

The commissioner noted that the government targeted planting 5,000 trees in July across the state, adding that trees will also be planted simultaneously across the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, as well as at the Lagos State University, in commemorating the Year 2022 Tree Planting Day.

He stated that to ensure seamless planting, tree seedlings have been distributed to the local authorities and are available at designated collection points for interested individuals, private organisations and NGOs until the end of this month free of charge.

Reiterating the government’s commitment, through Lagos State Parks and Garden (LASPARK), to continue to enlighten the public about the significance of trees as an immense contributor to human life, Bello said apart from providing shade, trees give oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife.

“This tells us that trees are indispensable and a fundamental part of our daily life”, he said.

Certainly, there is need to intensify public education and enlightenment on investing on tree planting to confront climate change as there is still disconnection between government efforts and investment and adaptive capacity of the citizenry.

Lifestyles of our people concerning the environment remain a pointer that we have a long way to go. It is regrettable that while governments are spending millions of naira to plant trees, people who move to new sites simply continue the culture of indiscriminately cutting every tree met on sight including fruit trees that can serve as food supplement. When the trees are not cut, people opt for the worse; set the site on fire as an easier way of clearing it.

It is, however, important to illustrate usefulness of trees to our life and environment. This will further enlighten members of the public with limited knowledge on the subject.

For one, trees have been scientifically proven 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 contribute immensely to the aesthetics of the environment.

They also check erosion and stem the tide of windstorm by serving as windbreakers. On another note, trees are brilliant cleansers. They remove other pollutants through the stomata 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.

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. Considering the simple and inexpensive nature of tree planting as well as its numerous advantages, the time to embrace the culture is now.

 

  • Egbewunmi is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.