Environmental conservation in the City of Trees
Olatawura Ladipo-Ajayi, Abuja Community Manager
Abuja, 22 September 2015
The recently-designed SDGs promote a more inclusive and sustainable development. In Nigeria, Abuja has always been an environmentally-friendly city, especially with regards to preservation of natural resources, thanks to its abundance of trees and greenery.
In 1997, the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) was created with the objectives of promoting sustainable development, improving environmental quality, conserving and using natural resources sustainably, and minimizing the impact of physical development on the ecosystem. Amongst the various policies being enforced by the AEPB is the ban on tree felling in the city. Violators of this rule are required to pay a heavy fine of 50 000 NGN (USD $250) per tree, and to plant three trees for every tree removed.
AEPB has been effective at monitoring illegal felling of trees and controlling vegetation in key verdant areas across the city. This effectiveness is due to the strength of the organization's 150 Enforcement Squad Members, who monitor and enforce the ban. As a result, the city is full of gardens and national parks serving as recreational and hangout spaces. In addition, a number of campaigns were organized to improve the environment, including tree-planting activities and awareness programs.
The Mary-Elika Foundation is an important organization, which focuses on integrating community natural resource projects with the environment. Its objective is to create ecological, economical and socio-cultural sustainability. This goal is pursued through dialogue and advocacy on environmental issues such as environmental degradation, deforestation, and climate change. These conversations are combined with activities geared towards sustainable development and environmental cleanliness. Programs include The Green House Radio Program to educate the general public on environmental issues and practices. In addition, the School Garden is a tree-planting campaign involving educational institutions and students creating and caring for a garden. Planting trees on school premises helps increase the environmental benefits derived from natural resources. School garden programs have been established in five schools across Abuja.
Environmental protection and tree conservation have always been important in Abuja. With the post-2015 development goals focusing on sustainable development, an increasing support for policies and programs favoring the environment is expected. Consequently, there is hope that Abuja and its civil society organizations will begin to realign their actions, and return to the city's history tree protection with renewed enthusiasm.
Photo: Bryn Pinzgauer