When I started planting trees twenty-five years ago in the desert part of Danbata, Kano State by invitation, the temperature in the afternoon in that part of the country was between 1300 and 1400F and it was almost impossible to be outside. The project of tree planting was in collaboration with the state ministry of environment as part of efforts to mitigate the encroachment of the desert into some parts of the Kano State.
One day, with very short notice I got the information that the then deputy governor of Kano State Engr. Mogaji was coming to pay me a visit and it was to be an evening affair. There was only one tree as far as the eyes can see that can provide shade for the August visitor and his entourage. So, under this tree, I received my visitor the deputy governor with his gifts, food, drinks, and even music. We ended up having some kind of celebration which will leave with me for the rest of my life because at the time the deputy governor departed with his entourage leaving me alone in the middle of nowhere in my tent and with my tree planting, my heart was filled with different emotions. His permanent secretary at that time Abdulazeez Abba now retired, became a volunteer of FADE Africa, and currently represents us all over the North. He has also travelled with me a number of times to conferences of parties around the world.
On the 22nd of April, Earth Day was celebrated all over the World. A day in the year set aside by the United Nations to honour the planet, the only planet in the whole universe that has life. The theme of the celebration was “Invest in our Planet” as part of imparting long-standing mitigation against climate change. The day’s theme brought back those beautiful memories of the visit with the deputy governor and the trees that were planted then that are now forest. For the past forty years or more since my first expedition across the Sahara and subsequent tour of other deserts of the world, I have come to realize that the most important way of mitigating against climate change is through REPLENISHMENT, particularly the forest that has been depleted over the centuries thereby requiring the replanting of billions of trees that have been cut down in an attempt to develop, for the economy and for building roads and industries. Therefore institutions and organizations including FADE Africa must continue to propagate for replenishment even though we have not been very successful despite all the interventions of the United Nations that have established many interventions.
Another day in the year set aside by the United Nations is the International Day of Forests. The world celebrates Forest Day on March 21 every year with the aim to increase awareness about the unprecedented role forests plays in sustaining lives on this planet. The theme for 2022 Forest Day was “Forests and Sustainable Production and Consumption”. Forests provide food, water, and shelter to animals and human beings. Forest sustainable management and resource use are critical to preventing climate change and contributing to present and future generations’ prosperity and well-being. Forests are also important for poverty alleviation. Despite these priceless environmental, social, and health benefits, deforestation continues at an alarming rate which has brought about global warming and climate change.
Every government, every business, and every individual in this world has a voice. There is not going to be one person who can do it all. But now is the time. Together, we can make a difference. We need to act as a team altogether. Sustainability is the answer to sustainable prosperity. Smart and Innovative companies are realizing that going green will help us all. It is now vital that all business leaders must become engaged in shaping the future for sustainability.
Another important day set aside by the United Nations is World Environment Day. This year’s theme is “Only One Earth”. The theme couldn’t be less accurate because Planet Earth is only one and it is our challenge and responsibility to protect it. It recalls the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature as resources must be protected. This day is celebrated every 5th of June.
Again the Day of the Desert, this intervention by the United Nations General Assembly is to find ways to combat desert from encroaching onto our lands and chasing us out of our homes. They had declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought to promote public awareness of the issue and the implementation in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa. The reason why the theme for 2022 Desert Day is “Rising up from drought together”.
I have been all over the country and beyond planting trees, sensitizing people on the need to plant and nurture and the great value the trees play in our lives. Research is ongoing by some environmental scientists engaged by FADE Africa to confirm that the coconut trees that were planted over a century ago by the colonial government along most coastal beaches were to mitigate and slow down the seawater encroaching inland. For me, it makes a lot of sense because the bar beach in Lagos started overflowing soon after all the coconut trees along the beaches were removed. Other beaches such as Cotonou Republic Benin, the Limbe in Cameroun, and in Accra, Ghana with coconut trees along their bank seem to have no record of overflowing banks.
Now in my home State Delta, planting trees, and sensitizing the public to appreciate the importance of having trees along the highways and around their homes has been very difficult. You find that those that buy and sell, those that park their vehicles under the trees on a sunny day, those that sometimes cut down the branches of the trees to be used as firewood are the ones that abuse the trees most when they are planted. My take, therefore, is for the local government, the state government, and the developers to stop putting down trees, especially those that provide beautiful shades.
Therefore, when sitting down under a tree for a shade on a beautiful hot afternoon, please think about who planted the trees and for how long because the trees may be older. The culture of our Nation is always to respect old age. So we must stop cutting down trees, especially those that provide shade and those that give life.