Environment & Climate ChangeNews

Desertification: Borno State To Begin First Phase of ‘10 Million Trees’ Project

The Borno State Government intends to raise and plant 10 million seedlings in two years to address desertification and deforestation in the State.

The State Ministry of Environment said it had commenced setting up nurseries across the state with experts and facilities to monitor and manage thousands of seedlings.

Mr Kabiru Wanori, the Borno State Commissioner for Environment, told HumAngle that the first phase of the project would involve planting one million trees in northern Borno to control desertification.

Desertification in the state is a major environmental and livelihood challenge driven by climatic variability, and human activities, such as deforestation and high reliance on firewood for cooking.

Arable land turns arid and forage for cattle becomes increasingly scarce affecting the livelihood of both farmers and pastoralists.

It further compounds socioeconomic inequalities, the impact of climate change and the intensity of weather events, including sand storms and heatwaves.

The survivability of the trees is a challenge for the state due to the short rainy season of three to four months, which is not enough to sustain trees to maturity, according to experts.

Ali Busuguma, the Regional Director of African Climate Change Research Center (ACCREC), said that raising seedlings and sustainably maintaining them was beyond making pledges.

He said that the people at the grassroots needed to own the process otherwise nothing would be achieved.

He asked, “if the state is serious on that course, why not encourage our local horticulturists within the metropolis that raise seedlings for their wellbeing?

“In that way, the government would empower the locals and save a lot in raising new ones.”

Busuguma explained that security concerns had prevented the organisation’s ‘tree-planting campaigns from reaching the northern part of Borno.

The ACCREC tree planting campaign includes the propagation of Jatropha for use by farmers to protect their farms from herders’ invasion and minimise conflict amongst them, he explained.

In 2017, Borno State government raised over 300,000 seedlings of assorted tree species to complement efforts of the National Agency for Great Green Wall programme in tackling desertification and degradation, according to the Agency for Great Green Wall.

The state is part of the 11 desertification and desert encroachment frontline states in Nigeria where the ambitious Great Green wall project is designed to combat desertification which threatens the livelihoods of an estimated 40 million and amplifies poverty and conflict between herders and farmers.

The Great Green Wall programme involves the establishment of a greenbelt covering 1,500km from Arewa Dandi Local Government Area in Kebbi State to Abadam Local Government Area in Borno State.

About 60 million drought-resistant tree seedlings are expected to be planted in 38 communities using a flexible mosaic Greenland concept.

The Borno tree planting project is also part of the national 25 million trees to increase the country’s carbon sink and respond to the urgent need for reforestation due to the loss of about 96 per cent of its forest cover.

This was announced by President Buhari during the United Nations Climate Summit in New York in 2019.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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