Monday, January 26, 2009

Desertification in Nigeria

This Day Online (Nigeria): Current statistics by the Federal Ministry of Environment shows that Nigeria [loses] about 600 meters yearly of its arable land mass to desert encroachment.

A statement issed yesterday by Special Assistant to the Minister of Envronment, Mr Rotimi Ajayi, noted that the Minister, Mr John Odey, was worried by the state of things and charged the people to cultivate non-timber forest trees to combat desertification in the Northern belt of Nigeria. Odey gave the charge during a meeting with officials of the Forestry Unit of the ministry in Abuja, weekend.

According to Ajayi, the meeting was to enable the minister appraise the unit's scope of work and gravity of the problems of desertification in Nigeria. "Deforestation has been estimated to contribute not less than 20 per cent to climate change globally and Nigeria ranks highest in Africa, on the problem of deforestation.

“At the current estimate, desert encroaches into the Nigerian landmass at the speed of 600 meters per annum, thereby threatening the country's food base," he said. He said that there was need to change Nigerian's attitude towards the forest, which could only be done by integrating the needs of the masses into the forest development plans….

The Niger River in Malia, well north of Nigeria, shows the encroaching desert. NASA

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