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Preventing desertification in Gombe


By Hajara Leman

Concerned residents of Gombe State have expressed worry on the fast rate of desertification that affects many parts of the state.

They observe that unfriendly human activities in the environment, such as tree felling, among others, are contributing to desertification in the region.

Malam Isah Abdullahi, a resident of Tashan Dukku, Gombe, observes that desertification has destroyed a lot useful farm lands and forests.

Citing a statistics from the Gombe State Urban Development, Water, Environment and Town Planning that more than 300 hectares of plantation land are prone to desertification; the residents solicit collective efforts at fighting the menace.

The statistics shows that the state has more than 40 game reserves ravaged by unhealthy human activities.

According to it, the rich vegetation, which covers the distance of more than 2,000 kilometre, is destroyed as a result of socio-economic activities such as tree felling, among others.

“Desert encroachment is moving at an alarming speed of 600 metres per annum,’’ the statistics indicates.

In the light of this, the Gombe State government says it will involve some environmentalists and interested individuals from the public to support in its fight against desertification.

Mr Adamu Pukuma, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Environment and Forestry Resources in the state, said the government would evolve reasonable control measures to prevent desertification.

“The Sahara desert is fast approaching and Lake Chad has almost dried up. So the advancement of Sahara is too rapid, hence the need to encourage tree planting.

“The government has spent more than N1.billion in the last three years on the control of gully erosion, which is one of the causes of desertification in the state.
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“Gombe is identified as one of the erosion prone area in the northern part of the country that will benefit from the Great Green Wall project.

“The project is aimed at seeing how the advancement of Sahara desert is controlled in Africa,’’ he said.

As part of the efforts of the state government to fight desertification, Pukuma said the government would prohibit tree felling via effective legislation.

In the same vein, Assemblyman Rambi Ayala, member representing Billiri East in the Gombe State House of Assembly, said at the house would support any bill seeking protection for the environment.

“The house will do what it takes to give the necessary push to such bill because environment is our common heritage and we must sustain it,’’ he said.

Assuring the residents of Gombe of its support in the fight against desertification, the Youth tree Planting Association of Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of the state, said the association had planted more than 2,000 trees so far.

Mr Josiah Barnabas, the Vice Chairman of the association, said that the leaders of the association recently inaugurated a tree planting campaign in a school in Gombe where they planted more than 200 trees.

“We have been going round the schools for tree planting campaign because we want to inculcate the love of nature among the young ones.

“This is to show them the importance of tree planting as well as the danger attached to tree felling’’ he said.

Also, Malam Abubakar Umar, an environmentalist in the National Environmental Standard Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA), admitted that a lot of vegetation had lost in some northern parts of the country.

“It is a collective responsibility, government alone cannot do it, we need to protect our environment from desertification,’’ he said.

Observers, nonetheless, note that massive tree planting campaign is cardinal to all efforts being made to prevent desertification.

Admitting that tree planting can sustain the beauty of the environment and prevent degradation, Prof. Fatima Sawa, the Provost of Federal College of Horticulture, Dadin-Kowa, Gombe , said that the college would begin to raise assorted tree seedlings for free distribution to people.

“Incessant cutting down of trees for the purpose of fire wood has contributed to global warming and lots of bio-diversity; the soil becomes low in nitrogen — a required nutrients,’’ she said.

In his view, Prof. Abdullahi Mahadi, former Vice-Chancellor, Gombe State University, claimed that his organisation, Mahadi Foudation, had the idea of re-vegetating the state long time ago.

“Here, in Gombe, we started it eight years ago, but it was not done well; now we concentrate in schools, create orchids, market garden and beautiful environment.

“The aim of the foundation is to green the schools’ environment because there is a relationship between learning and beautiful environment,’’ he said.

He recalled that he established a gene bank in the university when he was the vice-chancellor, and that he raised more than1, 000 indigenous trees.

Worried by the spate of desertification, the state government says it will ensure that pupils and students enrolled in schools in the state will be given seedlings to plant and nurse same throughout his or her stay in schools.

However, Malam Musa Haladu, firewood seller in Gombe, attributed the increase in tree felling in the state to the flourishing firewood business.

“Those relying on firewood as their source of cooking energy are more than those that use other alternative sources and this translates to intense dependence on the forest.

“Not less than 750 pick-up vans filled with firewood are being sold out monthly within Gombe metropolis alone.

“Each vehicle load of firewood cost between N12, 000 and N13, 000, depending on the quality of the firewood, ’’ he said.

He said he had been in the business for more than 30 years, explaining that firewood sellers were even going farther to the forest to fell trees.

All in all, environmentalists warn that irrespective of reasons given for felling trees, the action will have negative effects on the environment and human existence.(NANFeatures)

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