Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) have developed a partnership for the planting of no fewer than 20000 trees as part of the efforts to protect the Nigerian environment.
Part of the synergy is the training of forest guards by the NCF to protect the university’s forest.
Vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Osimone disclosed this at the take-off of the exercise at the Awka main campus of the university.
He said the exercise had become necessary following frequent cutting down of trees which had adversely affected the environment.
He said: “We are partnering with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation to plant trees to turn the deforested areas into forests again, considering the fact that the staff and students of Unizik take conservation seriously.
“There used to be a beautiful habitat in this university, but most of them have been chased away as a result of negative human activity.
“We will no longer allow laxity on the issue of environmental protection. We also have a programme to ensure its sustainability as we will introduce forest guards who will ensure that the environment is no longer abused. These forest guards, who will serve as a task force, will be trained by NCF.
“At the policy level, we have put in place measures to sanction those who abuse the environment in this university. “
According to Esimone, UNIZIK main campus in Awka had over 500 hectares of land and another 320 hectares at the Ifiteogwari/Umueje campus of the Faculty of Agriculture, which could be turned into a proper habitat.
He explained that the main campus had in its master plan an expanse but yet to be developed biological rich areas for zoological, botanical and forestry gardens for the departments of Zoology, Botany and Forestry/Wild life conservation.
He solicited the assistance of NCF to develop UNIZIK biodiversity potentials, adding that with greater support and involvement of NCF, the sustainable utilization of the university’s natural resources in the areas of eco-tourism and environmental education model for Anambra State would be achieved.
“This will help to fight erosion menace in Anambra State which had been described as the erosion capital of the world,” he added.
Appreciating the intervention of the Foundation in the forestation of the university’s degraded forest zone, the VC noted that the timely intervention came at a time the university needed it most.
On his part, representive of the Director General of NCF, Dr David Onoja, said the programme was targeted at enhancing the landscape aesthetics and watershed conservation, restore degraded forest areas within the campus and ensure the conservation of biological diversity in the university.
“It is also meant to provide a conservation area within the university campus to serve as a base for massive tree planting exercise in the institution,” he said.