The advancement of technology along with the exponential increase in global population has continued to worsen condition of our ecosystem. Theattendant pressure on the environment as a result of quest for development is declaring war against our collective survival. Forests have almost disappeared while bodies of water have become septic. Noise pollution has equally become a noticeable nuisance.
Consequently, the need for a green revolution has become the only route to the survival of human race. The degree to which green maintain life on the planet is critical because without trees the sustainability of human life is shortened. Our life depends on the availability of good air, water and food.
Characteristically, Lagos State is again setting the pace in addressing the all important greening question in the country. Through the creation of Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency, LASPARK, the state government is responsively tackling greening issues in the state.
The Agency was established to implement the greening policy of the state by re-awakening the consciousness of the citizens to the importance of a green environment. Its creation underscores the peaceful pursuit of rapid economic, social and educational excellence the state is already known for.
With the commitment of building on the tremendous work already done by the Conservation and Ecology Department of the Ministry of Environment, LASPARK is relentlessly establishing a seamless aura of greening across the state, thereby making it a vital component of rural life and strengthening the socio-cultural pride of the state. This remarkable development has placed Lagos among the notable green cities in the world today.
And just as renowned Kenyan Environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai, puts it: “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them”. This has informed the manner in which the Agency is going about the greening concept across the state. While committing the people to the core ideal of environmental responsibility, the fortune of nature is enlivened in every communities of the state.
Given that the cardinal priority of the Agency is the preservation of natural entity, its foremost approach was to deprecate the act of tree cutting as the practice is currently unlawful everywhere in the state. Thus, to encourage and promote the practice of afforestation, the State government enlarged its tree plantation at Badagry and established two Nurseries at Okobaba in Agege and Erikorodo in Ikorodu, where trees of different species are being nurtured.
To have a broadband greening across the state, series of tree planting initiatives were activated. The annual community tree planting campaign has been an illustrious outlet of espousing citizens to the dogma of greening. Through aggressive tree planting ordination in several communities across the five divisions of the state, the aesthetic value of the state has been brightened, while also reinforcing the essence of community mobilization in the development of the state.
Tree planting advocacy in markets and other public places has also been successfully executed as the act of tree planting and nurturing has been incorporated into businesses and social engagements. Through the “Me and my Tree Initiative” and the creation of “Green Clubs“ in some Public Schools in the state, the prospect of a greener Lagos has been enlivened. The bringing on board the younger generation to join in the movement for sustainable environment is profound and eternal.
More so, the Agency has trained and empowered over of 500 ‘Green Hands’ in all the LGAs and LCDAs of the state. These green conscious individuals are presently maintaining open spaces statewide. Interestingly, this greening movement has generated over 200,000 employment opportunities for horticulturists, pruners, gardeners, welders, tanker drivers and security personnel among others across the state.
The vision of enthralling a greener, healthier and sustainable Lagos has been enriched through the establishment of functional parks, gardens and recreational centers in line with international best standards. The 327 Parks and Gardens including 7 Public Event Parks, 297 Gardens, over 60 Schools, 2 Community Parks and Gardens maintained statewide, present the most appealing and idyllic environment for pleasure and memorable events.
Towards meeting projected number of trees to be planted across the state, the Agency is reflexive by commemorating notable dates in the state and the country in general with tree planting. This impressive strategy has further brought into its net personalities who have become crusaders of greening system. Essentially, over 7.8 million trees of 135 species have been planted across the state since the government initiated the tree planting campaign.
Since the core value of the Agency is premeditated on building an enterprising society that is environmentally responsible, sustained advocacy, enlightenment and sensitization programmes on radio, TV, newspapers and all social media platforms have promoted positive attitude of the citizens toward the greening programme.
Similarly, its Public-Private Partnership model of promoting greening has improved its profile as over 40 corporate institutions are currently investing in the landscaping and beautification of several open places across the state. Through this network of adoption, the general policies of the government in respect of the development, maintenance and management of open spaces across the state is been reinforced and the adventure towards an enterprising and smart society is resplendent. This has created a sense of relief among Lagosians that government is proficient in delivering enduring positive change.
In furtherance of its effort towards the regeneration of degraded areas across the state, the Agency is strategically engaging relevant stakeholders on the construction of linear parks on the state wetland. One of such proposed linear park is to be situated along Maryland, Gbagada and Anthony axis with an off road bicycle and urban agriculture system. By converting degraded wetland to a viable means of transportation, connecting communities around the wetland and promoting urban agricultural system for local farmers, the government is promoting a prosperous city with a sustainable atmospheric condition.
Furthermore, its environmental leadership is also visible through its recycling campaign. Having realised that recycling is one of the most dynamic areas in the waste management industry today to reduce the impacts of environmental hazards; the Agency has integrated a sustainable public education programme on waste management and recycling to achieve its overall objective of a healthy society.
Periodic engagement with formal and informal stakeholders through seminars, meetings, symposium, debate and so on has offered a great opportunity for stakeholders to reflect on the significance of trees in our lives and also take appropriate action in urban regeneration for a better living.
With the success of the various inventive strategies evolved to promote greening in the state, the resultant is the socio-economic transformation that has uplifted living standard of the populace as business atmosphere has become predictable and gratifying. Thus, the state now hosts to local and foreign investors who continue to provide the necessary impetus for social-economic growth.
Akinfenwa is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja