Conservationists urge youths to lead campaign for ecosystem restoration
Amid The landmark warning by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on possible catastrophe, if the world doesn’t act fast on climate change, conservationists have advised youths in the country to lead campaigns for ecosystem restoration through intentional practice that could preserve the earth for the present and future generations.
They argued that Nigerians seem to have a severed relationship with the ecosystem and the planet, plundering, polluting resources, and treating the earth as a dumping ground for plastic and other wastes.
The IPCC had recently raised alarm over increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts, and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade.
The experts spoke at the 19th Chief Shafi Edu memorial lecture, entitled, ‘youth and ecosystem restoration’ organised by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and sponsored by Chevron Nigeria. The forum attracted the director-general of NCF, Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano, the general manager, policy, government & policy affairs of Chevron Nigeria Ltd, Mr. Esimaje Brikinn, the two chief S.L Edu’s memorial grant awards for PhD studies; Olubamise Favour and Samuel Jatto, representative of Edu’s family, Mr. Gboyegba Edu and three young conservationists, Nela Duke-Ekpenyong, Omobola Eko, Mohammad Dakpanchi, and others.
Leading the calls, senior manager, Youth leadership program at African Wildlife Foundation, Ms. Simangele Msweli said young people that make up about 60 per cent of the African population are an opportunity for ecosystem restoration because they are an innovative generation and must be part of restoring the ecosystem which has been depleted with 87 percent of wetlands lost and 54 per cent of the earth depleted worldwide due to unsustainable ways of treating the environment.
She stated that almost every day, issues of climate change and environmental restoration have become a priority, adding that the ecosystem needs restoration because human existence and economies depend on it on a daily basis for survival.
Msweli said, “Real commitment that is quantifiable is needed for ecosystem restoration and indigenous people in local communities must be involved. Financial resources are being mobilised for ecosystem restoration, Africans are doing something about it, but more needs to be done. We shouldn’t be advancing economic growth at the expense of the ecosystem and our livelihoods. Effective youth engagement must involve being intentional, working with governments, partners and investing in their skills and one creative initiative is the Chief S.L Edu research grant for ecosystem restoration activities.”
She explained that the world needs restoration because the ecosystem has been degraded. However, Msweli warned that restoration shouldn’t be confused with reforestation, as it goes beyond the act of planting trees but includes the sustainable use of resources.
“Youths creative energy is critically needed, commitment coupled with effective youths’ engagement will bring us closer to the world where ecosystems are restored and therefore provide the livelihood, climate resilience, and sustainable economy”, Msweli said.
The President, Board of Trustees of the NCF, Chief Philip Asiodu said the theme was born out of the dire need to fully integrate the youth into the mainstream of the campaign and implementation of some programmes towards actualising large percent in achieving the restoration of the degraded environment.
He said any nation or organisation that is passionate about achieving an impactful result in conservation efforts must bring the teeming youths on board. He added that the foundation is strong in environmental education, establishing conservation clubs in schools cutting across primary, secondary, and tertiary supporting the establishment of youth groups and young conservationists’ projects.
Asiodu said, “We are moved to tears at the level of degradation, loss of wetlands, desertification, and fast-disappearing forests. We must not sit to watch this evil continue But bequeath a legacy of halting and reversing the loss, a legacy of total restoration of the ecosystem and saving our world.”
The Chairman, National Executive Council of the foundation, Chief Ede Dafinone affirmed that as far as the NCF was concerned, conservation messages and actions must be deliberate, strategic, and target-driven adding that to combat ecosystem degeneration, every sector of the economy, the society, and all generations must be engaged.
“Our efforts towards restoring Nigeria’s forest cover the green recovery Nigeria initiative had almost 2 million tree seedlings planted across the country. This was made possible with the support of the Federal Government, corporate organizations, and international partners/funders. We will continue to strengthen our relationship with local and international partners’, Dafinone said.
Earlier, Aminu-Kano clarified that the foundation has been at the forefront of creating awareness in the country for environmental conservation and ecosystem restoration. However, he said the critical mass of the people hasn’t been reached due to some challenges.
He further called for improved partnership with youths, traditional leaders, and communities to further derive the campaign for environmental sustainability for the present and future generations.
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