The Biomes Of My Childhood Are Disappearing Fast!, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú
I urge the the policy makers in the South-West to take an urgent look at this problem… We must not to destroy the earth and the resources that our children will need in the future. A generation that feeds on NOW, a generation that does not care about future generations, is a generation of infidels!
The South-West has the fastest disappearing rainforest in the world! International groups like the Rainforest Action Network, the Rainforest Alliance and the Borneo have told us the earth’s rainforests continue to disappear at an astounding 80,000 acres each day! Since 1960, much of the rainforest in Nigeria has seen incremental destruction, and it gets worse by the year. Indiscriminate logging, without any plan for replacement, has destroyed the famed unbroken canopy that was common in the South-West forests of my childhood. The sad meaning of this is the attendant high rate of extinction of indigenous flora and fauna. In the last three weeks, I have had the opportunity of walking through many places in Lagos. The urban sprawl is eliminating estuarine biomes and wetlands, thus putting many aquatic creatures in danger. Developments all around Lagos are creating a haphazard and ufriendly concrete jungle without character. The destruction of these biomes present a set of difficult problems that will require a long-term complex social, environmental and economic approach to tackle.
For millenia, our forefathers used the sustainable system of fallow, where a small patch of land is left to regenerate after some years of farming it. Since a small area of land is involved, the forest clearance is localised and temporary rather than extensive and permanent. It is a different story these days. As the population grows, large areas are cultivated with slash and burn techniques, and with no trees planted to replace old ones. Throughout the South-West, huge economic trees such as the oak, iroko, mahogany and many more that are hundreds of years old have been cut down, sold for as little as N15,000 and exported cheaply to other countries to make exclusive furniture. Is any furniture worth destroying as much as one acre of the tropical rainforest biome for? From the dense forests of Okeigbo to the fringes of Igbo-ora, vast areas of rainforest are cleared in one go; with the most valuable trees selected for timber, and the smaller trees used for the production of charcoal.
We have destroyed much of the tropical rainforest biome. The wetlands are disappearing. Unfortunately these biomes can only be preserved, as they can never be brought back. The tropical rainforest biome shelters two thirds of the planet’s wildlife. Researchers find new plant and animal species all the time. With unfettered destruction of the land, various species of tropical rainforest biome animals will remain unknown and will never be discovered; many of them undiscovered plants that may hold cures for humanity’s biggest scourges, like cancer and AIDS.
Losing this biome will bring dire consequences for Nigeria and the whole planet. The trees generate oxygen to the earth’s atmosphere and removes copious amounts of carbon from it, all done through natural processes. How do we expect to clear the carbon emissions we are constantly producing from burning fossil fuels?
The tropical rainforest biome is a gift to our planet. From it we have gotten many medicines, rubber, chocolate, coffee, palm oil and many others. The disappearing tropical rainforest biome is one of the biggest disasters threatening the world. Losing this biome will bring dire consequences for Nigeria and the whole planet. The trees generate oxygen to the earth’s atmosphere and removes copious amounts of carbon from it, all done through natural processes. How do we expect to clear the carbon emissions we are constantly producing from burning fossil fuels? The rainforest helps us return moisture into the air in a recycling process called evapotranspiration. With the deforestation occuring as it currently is, it could become impossible for the rainforest to continue this process and sustain itself. Within the next two decades, the South-West rainforest will be unable to thrive and regenerate fast enough in order to keep the balance of its unique ecosystem.
I urge the the policy makers in the South-West to take an urgent look at this problem. Forests can be managed without endangering rare species of plants and animals and without risking environmental damage. The gorillas and chimpanzees and buffaloes have disappeared from our forests due to hunting and environmental onslaught on their habitats. There are indigenous grasses and herbs found in wetlands that I have looked for and can’t find in the last few years. Governments should create large parks and reserves where hunting and logging are not allowed and devote a day to tree planting where they will supply seedlings of economic trees to people for planting. We can generate more money from ecotourism than the selling of timber. We must not to destroy the earth and the resources that our children will need in the future. A generation that feeds on NOW, a generation that does not care about future generations, is a generation of infidels!
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo
Image credit: Nuoweitech.com.