A leading Christian organization in Nigeria has pledged to plant 5.5 million trees over the next five years to help counter the effects of climate change in the country, where global warming threatens the livelihoods of more than 40 million people.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) launched the tree-planting initiative, titled “Green Revolution Campaign,” on March 14 in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.
Monsignor Lucius Ugorji, chairman of CBCN and the Metropolitan Archbishop of Owerri, the capital of Imo state in southern Nigeria, said at the project’s inauguration that 20,000 trees would be planted annually in more than 50 dioceses, resulting in an estimated 1.1 million new trees every year.
The project is meant to protect the environment from the adverse consequences of the region’s changing climate, which leads to droughts, biodiversity loss, the spread of deserts in 12 northern states, and conflicts among locals competing for diminishing space to grow food and graze animals, Ugorji said.
The effort has received funding and support from Caritas Nigeria, an agency of the Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria that mediates in development and humanitarian issues.
“The reforestation project will mitigate crises between farmers and herdsmen and other climate change-related problems affecting people and animals,” said Father Uchechukwu Obodoechina, executive director of Caritas Nigeria, referring to clashes between local agriculturalists and the Fulani, a largely nomadic and predominantly Muslim people spread out across Nigeria and the Sahel, a semiarid region in western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal to Sudan.
The CBCN project received plaudits from Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar, director general of the National Agency for Great Green Wall, an initiative by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment dedicated to alleviating the issues of desertification and land degradation while enhancing food security in Africa’s Sahel-Sahara region.
Emphasizing that the reforestation effort would help the livelihoods of more than 40 million people threatened by climate change, Maina-Bukar urged “other religious institutions across the country to emulate the action, to ensure a conducive environment and proper inculcation of sustainable environmental management in Nigeria.”
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