The Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) has marked this year’s International Day of Forests, with the theme, “Forests and education,” with a call to government and relevant stakeholders to invest in forestry education.
Commemorating the Day, FRIN hosted an open-air enlightenment programme on the green field just outside the Ibadan North Local Government Area, Agodi Gate, Ibadan. The event was attended by students from FRIN’s adopted schools, Urban Day Secondary School and International School Ibadan (ISI), and Oyo State government officials including the Commissioner for Environment and the lbadan North LGA chairman, and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The Director-General of FRIN, Dr Adeshola Adepoju, who was represented at the event by the Provost of the Federal College of Forestry, Dr Funmi Aderounmu, underscored the essential role forests play in human existence in his opening remarks saying “when the last tree dies, the last man dies.”
“Today, forests cover more than 30 per cent of the world’s land and contain more than 60,000 species,” said Dr Olayiwola Ajala of the Federal College of Forestry’s Wood and Paper Technology Department, who gave the first keynote address.
Speaking on the importance of forests, according to Dr Ajala, apart from converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and mitigating natural hazards like flood, forests also aid in regulating climate. He said that a 2017 research finding showed that forests induce rainfall. “If the forest is cut, it can lead to drought.
“Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change, and contribute to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations.
“They have a vital role to play in some of the major challenges we face today such as addressing climate change, eliminating hunger and keeping urban and rural communities sustainable.”
He added that “helping children connect with nature makes future generations conscious of the benefits of trees and forests and the need to manage them sustainably.”
Dr Ajala encouraged investing in forestry education which can change the world for the better. “By investing in forestry education at all levels, countries can help ensure that there are scientists, policy makers, foresters and local communities working to halt deforestation and restore degraded landscapes.”
Also speaking on the need to be well informed about the importance of trees and forests, Dr Olufisayo Onawumi of the Department of Bioscience, FRIN, in her keynote address, gave examples of how extracts from plantain stem can cure goitre, and how sour sop stem and leaves can arrest cancer in its early stages.
Oyo State Commissioner for Environment, Dr Isaac Ishola, represented at the event by Mr Salau Olaniyi, said “it is obvious that forestry education plays a vital role in environmental sustainability through tree planting, sustainable crop production through agroforestry practices and livelihood earnings from commercialisation of non-timber forest products. Then government and other stakeholders should provide enabling environment for inclusion in both formal and non-formal educational curriculum at primary, secondary, tertiary, extension services and awareness programme, so as to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
Mr Bashiru Adebayo, Chairman of Ibadan North LGA, who decried the sharp drop in the number of trees in urban areas, challenged FRIN, secondary school students, corps members at the event to do more tree planting, adding that his administration was ready to partner in this regard.
On November 28, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly resolved that International Day of Forests be held on March 21 as an annual event. The first International Day of Forests therefore took place on March 2, 2013.