Don raises the alarm over high rates of deforestation

Deforestation

A professor of Palynology and Paleoecology from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State, Olugbenga Ebenezer Ige, has decried the continued destruction of the nation’s vegetation and forest.

Ige who delivered the 11th Inaugural Lecture of the university, titled: “Wanted! Dead and Alive: Palynomorphs as Microscopic Signal to the Past and Present”, expressed an urgent need to reverse the wanton destruction of vegetation particularly forest where over 90 per cent of biodiversity is domiciled.

According to him, without vegetation there would be no palynology, the study of pollen grains and spores of plants. “Nearly all vegetation in Nigeria had been degraded and the Tropical rainforest is fast becoming derived savannah. About 30 per cent of earth’s land surface is covered by forests but deforestation is taking place at an alarming rate in the last 80 years.”

This, he attributed, to “the increasing attitude of our people in construction of roads, industrialisation, urbanisation, lumbering, among others. This is putting palynology in great danger.

“Nigeria is one of the 37 countries listed as having Low Forest Cover with High Rates of Deforestation (LFHD). The effort of the Forest guards and rangers in Nigeria should be improved so as to effectively manage our forest.”

He lamented that the removal of trees without sufficient reforestation has resulted in damage to habitat, biodiversity loss and aridity with adverse impacts on bio-sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

He stressed that that, as a matter of urgency, extensive afforestation campaign should be launched in the interest of environmental protection.

Prof. Ige urged the government to enforce a policy of “One Man One Tree” approach for sustainability of the nations forests, noting that in many parts of the world, especially in East Asian countries, reforestation and afforestation are increasing the area of forested lands.

Without mincing words, the Professor disclosed his modest contribution to AAUA by planting many trees on an expanse of land in the Year 2010, enthusing that the portion of land is covered with beautiful vegetation.

He lauded the immediate past government of Ondo State for doing a lot through its urban renewal initiatives, recommending the policy to all the three tiers of government in the country.

Moreover, the Inaugural Lecturer tasked the National Assembly to promulgate and enforce Nigeria’s environment act in order to check the incessant flooding in some parts of the country.

“To stem down agitation and militancy in the Niger Delta area of the country, the clearing of Ogoni land started by the Federal Government should be intensified, after which the re-vegetation of the area is pursued vigorously by the government.”

He said this would help the oil companies operating in the area to return the vegetation that had existed before the advent of exploration and exploitation activities over 50 years ago in Oloibiri well.

Ige urged government at all levels to urgently stop the prevailing reckless destruction of vegetation and forest, insisting on conscious efforts by government to stop or slow down deforestation.

Prof. Ige advised government to engage palynology in stemming down the prevailing kidnapping incidents in the country by identifying the kidnappers den through subjecting materials such as clothing and shoes from released victims to pollen analysis.

He also urged FG to establish Forensic Palynology Laboratories in the country that would help in locating the specific areas used by kidnappers to hide their victims, assuring that AAUA would be ready to pioneer such investigations.



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