A Non-Governmental Organisation, Jewel Environmental Initiative (JEI) based in Gombe, has urged the state government and other stakeholders to spread awareness to its rural communities to help curb indiscriminate felling of trees.
Mr Ismail Bima, Chief Executive Officer of the NGO, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Friday as part of its activities to commemorate this year’s World Environment Day.
NAN reports that the World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment and the theme for this year is ‘Celebrate Biodiversity’.
Bima said awareness needed to be taken to villages in Gombe state, saying that most of the communities in the state were not aware of the dangers of deforestation.
He said that alternative cooking energy sources should be made available to residents in rural areas, adding that if they had no alternatives to cooking their foods, they would fall back on the trees.
“The awareness will enlighten them more on the importance of having these trees in their environment. When they know, they will reduce cutting or tree felling; they will shave the trees instead of cutting them down,” he said.
Bima emphasised that tree felling for whatever purpose must be discouraged, saying that just a week ago, the organisation got a call from Kaltungo, where a Baobab tree of over 40 years was cut down completely.
“This is bad. We are just damaging our environment, culture and nature that help sustain our life,’’ the chief executive officer said.
He said the impact of environmental degradation was already being felt.
According to him, most hunters no longer see animals to hunt and even most of our kids do not know squirrels because they are becoming extinct.
“ The environment that sustains these animals has been depleted and so we no longer have the environment to keep these animals in our communities; so they have relocated.
“We must also reduce most of the chemicals that we use on soil while farming because they are also damaging the micro-organisms which we need in our environment to balance the ecosystem,” he said.
Bima, therefore, urged the state government to do more, especially in the area of strengthening environmental laws to discourage tree felling especially in the frontline local government areas where tree felling was still being practiced.
He also urged residents of Gombe communities to cultivate the habit of planting trees to complement efforts of the state government to plant one million trees every year.