Mr. Oladipupo Ajiroba, a postgraduate student of Natural Resources Conservation at the University of Lagos and also a Special Assistant to Mrs. Hafsat Abiola, the Special Adviser on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Ogun State Governor was selected and installed as the Chairperson at the Official launch of the Nigerian Field Society Young Explorers (NFSYE). In his acceptance speech, Mr. Oladipupo Ajiroba, Chairman of the newly launched NFSYE, and also of the leadership team at Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition (NYCC) commended the Nigerian Field Society and the management of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture for making youths the vanguard of forest protection and natural resource management in Nigeria. He spoke about the work of Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition in involving young people on environmental management in Nigeria and expressed confidence that with this previous experience, he will lead NFSYE successfully.
The launch programme that was held on Saturday November, 19 at IITA campus, Ibadan, Oyo State and chaired by the Director General of IITA; had seasoned experts on conservation and environmental management in attendance.
In his words, “he decried the alarming rate at which Nigeria’s forest reserves have been depleted. The launching of Nigerian Field Society Young Explorers Initiative is an excellent opportunity for us to stress the importance to walk the talk and not just talk the talk".
“Young people should be given more consideration and prominent roles in planning various projects and policies. Natural resources management is not complete without the active participation of young people as well as the indigenous people. While it is not a doubt that old people have the ideas born out of experience overtime, young people have the energy and number to drive these ideas and as well ensure it is sustainable” he adds. Furthermore, Oladipupo extolled the leadership of young Nigerians who have been leading environmental campaigns in Nigeria, especially Esther Agbarakwe, the founder of Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition who presently is an Advocacy fellow at Population Action International, Washington DC, for her leadership and extensive advocacy work on promoting awareness on biodiversity.
In Nigeria, deforestation or loss of vegetation or the selective exploitation of forests for economic or social reasons is about 3.5% per year, translating to a loss of 350,000–400,000 ha of forest land per year. The consequence of this situation has led to global warming and climate change that is now affecting agricultural production,” were the words of Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Prof. David Okali, Nigeria’s first professor of forestry, notes that the impact of deforestation and degradation on the environment and livelihoods is enormous. Meanwhile, the current president, Prof. Funso Adeniyi, emphasized the importance of forming the youth wing of the NFS, the oldest NGO in Nigeria, now 81 years old.
“The time for action is now and the youths, who will soon be the custodian of these resources, must be involved,” they said.
Recent studies show that forests in Nigeria now occupy about 923,767 km2 or about 10 million ha. This is about 10% of Nigeria’s forest land area and well below the Food and Agriculture Organization’s recommended national minimum of 25%.
Dr. John Peacock, a consultant and coordinator of the IITA-Leventis Foundation project, notes that agricultural intensification could help reduce the rate of deforestation in the region.
“If farmers get improved seeds and inputs such as fertilizers, and are trained, they would not need to slash and burn or embark on practices that will harm the forests,” he says.
Written by Oladipupo Ajiroba