Experts advocate green habits among students through tree planting

In other to have a sustainable ecosystem, experts have advocated green habits in tree planting and ecological restoration among students. HELEN OJI reports.

Experts have kick-started an awareness campaign on climate change issues through inter-school debate and engaging students in the Go-Green project.The Go-Green project is an initiative of the Shehu Maikoli Foundation, Sokoto; Eco-Africa Climate Change Foundation, Abuja; and the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Sokoto State Council.

The initiative is at the forefront of the struggle for entrenching environmentally positive habits also known as green habits for sustainable ecosystem. They have also expressed readiness to tackle climate change crisis through advocacy, adaptation, mitigation, tree planting and ecological restoration.

Go Green Ambassadors

Students from various tertiary education institutions in the state are now Go-Green Ambassadors and would contribute to protecting their environments. They participated in Go-Green inter-tertiary institutions debate, which many acknowledged has enhanced climate literacy and motivated them to take action against the global crisis, which has continued to take a heavy toll locally. From the debate about the reality or otherwise of climate change; to the issues around social and health impacts, vulnerability, adaptions and mitigation of the crisis, the central focus of Go-Green’s initiative was boosting understanding of the issues.

Massive tree planting

The Chair, Board of Trustees Go-Green Project, Alhaji Altine Kajiji, stated the need to support students at all levels to be aware of and contribute to addressing climate change issues in the state and beyond.

He said: “These students are our future leaders, and they will pilot multi-sectoral affairs of our society.

“Apart from the massive support this project has secured, the Go Green Project with its scope in Sokoto state has garnered more support from many non-governmental organisations such as Al-Ansar foundation Abuja, the Maria Tambuwal Development Initiative (MTDI). As a result, we will extend the Go-Green Project to Yobe, Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, and Jigawa states in the second phase to be launched in the first quarter of 2023,” he said.

He added: “The resources invested into the Go-Green project through carefully designed programs such as the massive tree plantations and assorted seedlings distributed to various communities across the state and the just concluded climate change debate competition, I am certain will positively impact the targeted communities and will reduce that overdependence on our ecological resources for energy.”

Massive tree planting

Kajiji, who is also the Founder of the Shehu Maikoli Foundation, revealed that over the years, the Foundation had embarked on massive tree planting at different sites and parts of Sokoto state and donated assorted seedlings to communities and agencies.

He said: “I also want to inform you that serving humanity and grooming our younger generations to succeed in various aspects of life is our major goal in founding the Shehu Maikoli Foundation and Go-Green Project.”

Environment Conscience

The Chair Go-Green Debate and Essay Competitions Committee (DECC) Dr Abdullahi Bako Rabah, said: “At the launching of the Young Foresters Club as part of the activities of the Go-Green Project, a Debate Competition Committee was inaugurated to organise a competition among inter-tertiary institutions in the state to bring to light contemporary issues on climate change among our teeming youths studying various programs in these institutions.

“The debate is not only about coming and winning but, more importantly, inculcating the concept of climate change in the minds of our youths.”He added the project subsequently established Climate Change Mitigation Societies in all the participating institutions, with all 30 debaters across all ten schools, automatically ambassadors of Go-Green.Rabah disclosed that the Go-Green project embarked on many advocacy activities to enlighten the public on the menace of climate change and carried out distribution of varieties of seedlings in selected local governments in the state and to many youth organisations in the state.

One of the participants, Aisha Bello said: “It has helped me to understand the impact of climate change and develop a stronger environment conscience. I feel empowered.”

Climate scientists

“Tree planting is one of the project’s major activities because climate scientists working for the IPCC believe 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 organisations are encouraging tree planting to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

He said while the benefits of tree planting are subject to debate, the costs are low compared to many other mitigation options.

“The IPCC has concluded that ‘the mitigation costs through forestry can be quite modest (US$0.1–US$20 / metric ton carbon dioxide) in some tropical developing countries … The costs of biological mitigation, therefore, are low compared to those of many other alternative measures,” he said.

Enforcement measures

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) Shehu Shagari University of Education, Sokoto, Prof. Muhammad Mode, called for support to non-governmental organisations such as Go-Green.

Prof. Mode added that activities such as debates,essay competitions, drama, and town hall meetings should continue to be organised to understand the issues.

He noted the effects of climate change on the Nigerian population to include floods, public health, storm surges, ocean surges, and loss of forest resources, livestock mortality and food security.

Mode stressed the need for audit of the environment to quantify the effect of the changes and also urged enforcement of strict measures by the government on people who illegally cut off trees and enlightenment campaigns for the citizens to become more eco-friendly, among others. Comprehensive environmental data to show changes over time.