Global warming which is also known as climate change is gradually tearing down the root of our beloved earth leaving us perplexed. It has found a dwelling place among us and is constantly changing the way we interact with the environment, prompting us to adjust.
Over the years, human activities have largely contributed to a constant rise in temperature which is changing the earth’s climate. The gradual increase in the volumes of carbon-dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural and industrial activities are the primary cause of climate change. As a result, the average temperature of the earth has risen to 0.4 – 0.8◦C in the last century and might be as high as 1.4 – 5.8◦C by the year 2100 as predicted by scientist.
One of the many ways to combat global warming and to reduce its overwhelming effect is by the planting of trees. Tree planting is the process of transplanting tree seedlings for the purpose of forestry creation, land reclamation or landscaping. Trees contribute immensely to the environment, economy, and social life of a nation.
The fate of trees in the world is threatened by human activities as the rate at which trees are destroyed is alarming. About 13 million hectares of forest have been destroyed by various human and natural activities and by the year 2030 only 10% of the rainforest will be left if urgent attention is not given.
In Nigeria, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says about 350,000 to 400,000 hectares of land per year are lost to tree cutting. Farming activities and fuel wood consumption are majorly responsible for loss of tress in Nigeria.
The Impact of Tree Cutting on Climate Change
• Cutting down of trees deprives forest of its canopy, a covering which prevents sun rays during the day from having direct contact with the soil. This situation leads to the formation of dry soil and exposes organisms that feed and live in soil to very harsh environmental conditions.
• Tree removal leads to more extreme temperature on earth and its absence also allows large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which increases the speed and severity of global warming.
Trees as Weapon to Defeating Climate Change
Trees play an important role in combating global warming;
- Trees can help fight against climate change by removing carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere. Naturally, they absorb C02 which is a key greenhouse gas and converts the carbon into trunk branches, roots and leaves through the process of photosynthesis.
- Trees can also help to moderate temperature through reflecting sunlight, providing shade and evaporating water through transpiration.
- Trees acts as earth’s cooling agent by functioning as carbon sinks and adding water vapour to the atmosphere, thereby increasing cloudiness.
- Trees have the ability to reduce water flow which decreases the impact of heavy rain and floods, thereby improving the effectiveness of sustainable drainage system.
- Trees improve the quality of water. They acts as natural filters and their roots counter soil erosion. This keeps absorbed carbon locked in.
The Role of Government in Combating Climate Change
The Federal Government of Nigeria has a big part to play in the fight against Climate Change through the planting of trees.
According to the National Policy on the Environment (Revised 2016), the Government will “protect, conserve and create new forest for scientific, recreational, cultural and economic purposes while ensuring proper dissemination of scientific and technological information conductive to more use of forest resources”. It is therefore imperative for the government to use available resources to protect the forest and also create new forest by planting trees.
The Government should also criminalize the indiscriminate cutting of trees and offenders should not go on punished.
Enlightenment campaigns about the importance of tree planting and conservation should be carried out periodically as this will create awareness in the minds of the people.
Citizen’s Role in Combating Climate Change
However, planting of trees should not be left to the government alone, citizens of Nigeria also have a role to play in protecting and conserving the forest, we should encourage ourselves in our various communities to plant trees.
We can also put pressure on companies which manufacture their products through the destruction of the forest by refusing to patronize them, this will enable them look for alternative sources of raw material.
Let us also reuse and recycle products so as to lower the need for more raw materials from trees and also create alternatives to products manufactured from trees.
As long as we interact with the environment in any capacity, it is our responsibility to protect the forest, and the earth as a whole.