As the world celebrates this year’s World Environment Day (WED), the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) calls on all Nigerians in their respective capacities to support a long term action plan to rehabilitate the forest estates of Nigeria embarked on by the Foundation.
The Foundation, in its five year strategic plan, has put in place avenues to engage all stakeholders on environmental issues in Nigeria towards ensuring that the 25 percent forest cover as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is achievable in no distant time. Concomitantly, NCF aims to develop sustainable livelihood opportunities for local communities who are custodians of these forests while maintaining the ecological integrity of the natural environment for posterity.
Today, only about 5% (46,000 km2) of Nigeria’s land area is covered by natural forests with majority located in protected areas like National Parks and Game Reserves. Flagship species such as the Cross River Gorilla is the most endangered African ape with only about 300 individuals left in the wild. Forest Elephants are also critically endangered with fragmented populations in southern Nigeria. These Elephant populations might not survive except urgent action is taken to protect their range.
This year’s World Environment Day theme – ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’ reminds us that our consumption habits must be controlled and based on a broader awareness of the fragility of the earth's ecosystems. From 1960 to date, Nigeria has lost about 95% of its forest cover due to deforestation and habitat degrading activities like forest clearance for farmlands, logging and unsustainable land-use practices. This has resulted in the loss of biodiversity and the reduced functioning of our ecosystems.
The Nigerian Conservation Foundation will take up the challenge by offering constructive suggestions and policy advice to the government on environmental issues from time to time. Also, as part of its mandate, the Foundation will continue to promote environmental conservation and sustainable development in Nigeria while enjoining Nigerians from all walks of life to join the crusade aimed at protecting the natural resources of the country.
NCF identifies fully with this year's World Environment Day theme of "Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care".