The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has called for a joimt effort aimed at protecting the environment and conservation of nature.
The foundation made the call at its 32nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos on Thursday.
The NCF Director General, Dr Muhtari Aminu-Kano, while speaking with journalists, said that Nigerians needed to value nature and protect the environment to avert further disaster.
He added that the foundation was doing everything possible for the ordinary Nigerian to value nature.
He said awareness campaign and sensitisation had been embarked upon by the foundation to ensure people understood the value of nature and how to protect the environment.
He said that every segment in the society – the local conservation group, farmers, fishermen, among others – needed to stop damaging the environment and nature.
“COVID-19 should teach humanity some key lessons.
“Firstly, since there is a distinct possibility that the pandemic is of zoonotic (wildlife) origins, we should, therefore, recognise activities that shrink the space available for wildlife, such as deforestation.
“My view is that unless we practice requisite ‘ecological distancing’, we will continue to be forced to practice ‘social distancing’ in future.
“Secondly, as demonstrated during the lockdown, we have seen that wildlife has a remarkable ability to recover fast and recolonise spaces from which it has been hitherto displaced once it is allowed to do so by the exclusion of harmful activities,” he said.
He added that the videos and pictures of charismatic animals roaming empty streets in cities around the world during lockdowns was a symbolic manifestation of this ability.
While speaking at the AGM, he said that the pandemic had a telling impact on NCF’s projects, the people, finances, and engagement with the public.
He said that most of the foundation’s field projects were not severely affected.
“However, vulnerable initiatives such as the Lekki Conservation Centre, the Vulture Advocacy Project and Field Research across the country came to a standstill for some period because of lockdown.
“Some of the challenges we encountered included restrictions to face-to-face meetings, increase in illegal activities in some locations and loss of supplementary income in communities benefiting from eco-tourism.
“Last year witnessed the ramping-up of the afforestation component of our Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) initiative.
“Directly or through our partners, we planted up to one million, seven hundred seedlings in 14 states across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria,” he said.
He urged everyone and NCF as a whole to build on the lessons of the pandemic and the heightened awareness it brought to amplify the message on stopping the loss of nature.
The president, board of trustees, Mr Philip Asiodu, in his presentation, expressed gratitude to the government and partners for their unflinching support for the foundation.
“One of our flagship programmes that has served as an advocacy tool over the years, the Chief S.L. Edu Memorial Lecture, helped set the tone for the year.
“The lecture focused on the role of traditional leaders in protecting and restoring the Nigerian environment.
“The Federal Government through the Ecological Fund sponsored the afforestation programme we are currently having in Nnamdi Azikwe University, Anambra State,” he said.
He added that the foundation recorded a slight increase in the membership base for the year.
“This encouraged us to put in more efforts into becoming a mass membership organisation in the coming years,” he said.
The Chairman, National Executive Council, NCF, Mr Ede Dafinone, during his speech, confirmed that the vulture project was carried out inspite of the pandemic.
“Despite the pandemic and national lockdown, we succeeded in carrying out the vulture conservation project which was started in 2017.
“Efforts were intensified, new strategies were adopted in campaigning for vulture conservation and more relevant stakeholders were seriously engaged,” he said. (NAN)