Nigeria has lost 96 per cent of its forest due to deforestation, according to the Director-General, Nigerian Conservation Foundation, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano.
Aminu-Kano said the country currently has only four per cent of its original forest cover.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos: “About 96 per cent of our original forest have been lost; it is catastrophic.
“It is sad that we are losing vegetation cover and there is absolute need to make concerted effort to grow more trees because the more the merrier not only in Lagos but across the country.”
Aminu-Kano said the NCF was exploring ways of increasing the country’s vegetation from four per cent to at least 25 per cent in the next 30 years.
One of the ways, he said, is to plant more trees and stop felling of trees as fuel for cooking and furniture purposes.
The director-general said: “We are exploring ways of gaining back some of what we have lost through the ‘Green Recovery Nigeria Initiative’ that will bring stakeholders like the government, faith leaders, traditional rulers and others to thinker on solutions.
“We have only four per cent of our original forest cover now and we think that is catastrophic and requires massive efforts to increase that coverage to at least 25 per cent across the country in 30 years.
“We want to see more trees everywhere because they will help to save humanity from global warming as they breathe in what we breathe out and then they breathe out what we breathe in for survival.”
Aminu-Kano, therefore, called for urban regeneration like the one being implemented by the Lagos State Parks and Gardens, describing it as commendable.
He said: “I think it is time for urban regeneration like what LASPARK is maintaining and I hope they will up their game.
“We need to plant more trees as wood to stem the firewood crisis facing Nigeria.
“We could also explore tree plantations for timbers so that we do not cut down our forest for the purpose of furniture.
“It also means leaving trees on farmlands so that we do not just clear everything and plant perennial crops, thereby reducing our forest cover.”
On Nigeria’s coastal erosion, the NCF D-G called for a holistic approach toward arresting the ravaging strong ocean currents from the Atlantic.
He noted that the currents have compounded coastal erosion in Lagos and some states in the South.
Aminu-Kano said the various efforts to provide immediate remedies to shoreline erosions in Lagos had moved the problem to other parts of the state and beyond.
Giving a brief history, he said the problem of coastal erosion started in the 1930s when moulds were built around the Apapa Port to make it easy for vessels to berth.
According to him, the move transferred the problem to Victoria Island, compelling the Lagos State Government to begin the Eko Atlantic City Project to stop the Bar Beach erosion, but pushed the problem eastward to other parts of Lekki.
Aminu-Kano said some houses and communities were disappearing overnight due to the fast moving ocean currents and called for urgent multi-level action.
He said: “We do not hear of Bar Beach erosion or Victoria Island anymore, but it has pushed the problem more eastwards and this is the same with many other environmental issues.
“If you do development and look only at your immediate environment, then you are not looking at the whole picture and you are pushing the problem somewhere else or at another time.
“The current of the Nigerian ocean and the nature of the Atlantic on our side is not really very favourable to Nigeria because the Atlantic is very turbulent in the Nigerian Coastal Waters and close to the high seas in our side and, therefore, it comes with force.”
Aminu-Kano expressed satisfaction that the Lagos State Government had saved about 14km of the coastlines by constructing groins eastward the Eko Atlantic City at a cost of N1 billion each and appealed for the Federal Government’s support.
He said: “The project is too expensive and the problem overwhelming for Lagos alone to handle.
“Those groins are expensive and from what we hear that to build a groin is in the region of N1 billion.
“Our call has always been that the Federal Government steps in through the Ecological Funds, which are set up specifically to address this kind of issue.”
Aminu-Kano also wants Federal Government’s intervention in tackling coastline erosion in Ayetoro area of Ondo State and other states, including the Niger Delta Region, being ravaged by the turbulent ocean currents.