Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola yesterday led other senior government officials on another tree planting campaign, asserting that in just six years of the exercise, no less than four million trees have been planted across the State.
Speaking at this year’s tree planting campaign ceremony with the theme, “Green is Peace”, at Total Filling Station, Onipetesi, along Old Abeokuta Road in Agege, Fashola said the positive effect of the exercise was already showing pointing out that it was as a result of the efforts that Lagos was spared the heavy flooding that ravaged the nation last year.
Pointing out that the campaign was designed to make people aware of the unique role trees and other plant communities play in making the environment conducive for human habitation and to encourage everybody to plant and protect trees, the governor explained further, “”It is not by coincidence that the State was spared of the ravages of flood last year; it was the result of our collective efforts at preserving nature to prevent the wrath”.
“Today, I renew our commitment to you that we will not relent; we will continue till our heritage and collective property is restored to the glorious state”, the governor said expressing joy that other states like Ogun and Oyo have keyed into the initiative.
Recalling his address to Lagosians on July 14, 2010, when he announced that an institutionalization of tree planting and greening through the use of law has received the blessing of the State House of Assembly with the imminent passage of the law establishing the Park and Gardens Commission, Governor Fashola declared, “I am proud to inform you that the institution, Lagos Parks and Garden Agency, is already up and running – an indication that the green campaign will outlive this administration”.
The governor noted that humans take from trees in so many ways which they do not realize pointing out that as a result of over-exploitation without replenishing, global green resources were diminishing at a rapid rate while the population of the world was exploding. He thanked the people of Lagos State “for keeping faith with us since we began the crusade to regenerate the environment by planting tress” adding, “We are here today to give back to the environment in one of the few ways that we can”.
“The absence of greens result in vegetal degradation, impoverished ecosystem and decreased biological productivity that lead to food shortage, ill-health and low per capita income – all situations we want to avoid in Lagos”, the governor said.
He noted with regrets that the negative effect of lack of sufficient vegetation in the Northern part of the country which has led to desert encroachment was already ravaging 11 out of the 19 states of the North, the Governor explained that the loss of arable land in those parts has been blamed for the several clashes between Fulani herdsmen and native crop growers.
“The loss of arable land compels herdsmen to search for greener pastures and this creates conflict between them and farmers because their animals invariably graze on cultivated farmlands”, the Governor said.Pointing out that the Lagos Parks and Garden Agency would ensure that the gains of the past experiences were not reversed and that more mileage would be covered, Governor Fashola implored Lagosians to be even more committed to the tree planting campaign adding that more trees preserve existing ones. He also urged them to resist anyone attempting to fell trees adding, “Grow green, grow trees”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said the annual tree planting exercise of which Sunday’s occasion was the sixth, was the brainchild of Governor Fashola whom he described as “a committed advocate of a healthy environment” adding that the exercise, as a policy of the present administration, it has helped in reducing carbon and other pollutants from the environment.
“So far, our tree planting idea has laudably helped in furthering the administration’s green revolution campaign geared towards mitigating the challenging issues of Global Warming and Climate Change” the Commissioner said adding that the administration has made vital progress in that regard. According to the Commissioner, Lagos is successfully combating the menace of erosion and other ecological problems noting that this year’s tree planting campaign was taking place simultaneously in several locations across the State with individuals and organizations mobilized to be part of the event.
While calling on residents of the state to join other cities of the world in planting trees, the Commissioner noted with pride that children in the nursery, primary and secondary schools in the State “have, to a large extent, become veritable tool in the on-going revolution for environmental re-engineering”, Bello said.