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A New Idea to Save Tropical Forests Takes Flight

This is the first in a series of tropical forest policy commentaries John-O Niles will be writing for leading up to the December U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen. John-O is the Director of the Tropical Forest Group.

In late 1991, I had just finished my undergraduate degree in forest economics at the University of Vermont. The Rio Earth Summit was approaching and everyone seemed to be wearing “Save the Rainforest” T-shirts. So, being 22 years old and green in more ways than one, I decided to hitchhike across Africa

Nigeria: How Lagos Residents Pollute Environment


It gives me great pleasure to be invited to deliver the 2009 Chief S.L. Edu Memorial Lecture and I am profoundly thankful to the Trustees, the Governing Council and the Management of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF.) for this honour accorded me. The noble attempt to perpetuate the memory of Chief S.L. Edu, a distinguished and outstanding Nigerian, by instituting the Annual Memorial Lecture in his memory is in itself, highly commendable as it will continue to be a constant reminder of the fragility of our environment and our responsibility to ensure its sustainability. Chief S. L. Edu lives even in death, as a great visionary and pathfinder, who early in the life of this nation, realized the threats posed by man’s insatiable need for development to his own environment and sought to chart a rational course for its amelioration.

A man of great foresight, he realized early, the need to ensure that even as we exploit the nation’s vast natural resources, society must achieve a secure, equitable and sustainable future. He sought to draw attention to the need to reduce the negative impacts of natural resources exploitation on the environment and move towards sustainable development, failing which the future of generations yet unborn will be in jeopardy.

His legacy, the National Conservation Foundation and the lecture series which the leadership of the foundation has instituted to immortalize Chief S.L. Edu, will go a long way in stimulating debate and actions aimed at ameliorating Nigeria’s deteriorating environment.

Environmental issues continue to dominate our discussions and consciousness as it is now clear that the physical, chemical as well as the biological integrity of our planet is being compromised daily. The destructive processes are not only continuous but are increasing both in quantum and in rate. While some of the impacts such as loss of biodiversity might be gradual, there are hosts of communities around the world today that are being consumed by coastal and gully erosion, sea incursion, bush fires etc. with lives and billions of dollars worth of properties being lost.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we live in a precarious world; one epitomized by rampaging natural forces, man’s insatiable demand for ever dwindling resources and worsened by an increasing but uncontrolled surge in population growth especially in developing countries. The world may indeed be a beautiful planet, but it is in ever constant danger of destruction and despoliation by nature and man. It is a world in which the greed of our present generation gives little thought to the survival of future generations. This scenario has imposed tremendous strains and stresses on the environment, especially in the past two centuries and put our planet in perilous danger. Ours indeed is a planet in peril. In Nigeria in particular, both nature and man are at work endangering the environment even as we presently lack the knowledge, technology, human capacity, financial resources and the political will to remediate it. We walk indeed on a banana peel.

An unfortunate paradox can however be recognized here, in that while the developed countries of the world are able to effectively combat the destructive physical impacts of their immediate environment due to their access to technology and resources, the developing countries are almost totally at the mercy of nature with very low institutional capacity to respond to environmental threats. Vast lands are lost annually to sea incursion, gully erosion and desertification in developing countries, problems which are being effectively managed in most developed countries.

Since we live in a globalised world, the activities of man in one part of the globe affect the other parts for good or for bad. Unfortunately, the developing countries are having the shorter end of the stick. For instance, even though the massive depletion of the ozone layer is caused by less than 20% of the world’s population living in the Northern Hemisphere, its negative impacts are felt more profoundly by over 60% of the world population in the developing parts of the world by way of drought, sea level rises and coastal erosion. Compared to the rampaging impact of climate change on the continent, Africa’s share of the annual man-made greenhouse gases is only 2-3% of the estimated 6 million metric tones emitted globally.

Due to its peculiar geographical, geological and geomorphological setting, the Nigerian environmental system is characterized by the combination of natural features that make it uniquely susceptible and highly fragile. In ecological terms, Nigeria is a land of extremes and had remained constantly at risk for ages, with the more recent phenomenon of global warming further accentuating the rate of environmental degradation. Some of these unique features include:

(a) Nigeria is bounded in the south by over 850km long active coastline and in the north by a similar length of the Sahara Desert (Fig. 1). The country is therefore permanently being ravaged by coastline erosion to the south as well as desertification to the north. Global warming is now acting as a catalyst to these two destructive natural forces.

Thus, while coastal inhabitants are under constant threats of sea-level rise, and coastal erosion, Nigerians who dwell along the fringes of the Sahara are under the unabating threats of desertification.

(b) The low-lying nature of much of the coastal parts of Nigeria due to its natural geological setting also constitutes a natural threat to the Nigerian environment. Generally, rising to less than 5 metres above sea level, these costal regions are highly prone to flooding even with small rises in sea level.

(c) Nigeria lies in the middle latitudes in the Gulf of Guinea. It is therefore characterized by generally high and strong wave systems which have more destructive impacts on the shoreline and constantly causing shoreline erosion.

(d) Nigeria lies within the equatorial belt characterized by generally high torrential rainfall (Fig. 2). Annual rainfall ranges from over 3000mm along the coastline to about 600mm in the extreme north.

Even with its short season, rainfall in the north is usually characterized by heavy downpour and high impact torrents, contributing largely to gully erosion.

(e) Over 40% of Nigeria’s land area is covered by loose Cretaceous Sandstones and deeply weathered Basement Complex rocks giving relatively soft and loose sections near surface. Such profiles are highly susceptible to gully erosion, especially when combined with torrential rainfall.

In addition to environmental threats posed by Nigeria’s natural physical setting, there are a number of threats that are related to human activities which have further amplified the country’s vulnerability to environmental degradation. These include:

(a) Population Growth and Urbanization
The current population of Nigeria is put at 140 million, representing 20% of the entire population of Africa. The population has therefore grown dramatically since the 1952/1953 census when it was 31.5 million. Currently, we have a Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 5.7 children per woman, child birth rate of 42 births per thousand, child death rate of 13 per thousand and a rapid population growth rate of 2.9% per year (Fig. 3). The United Nations project a population of 289 million for the country by 2050.

Apart from population growth, Nigeria has been experiencing increased urbanization over the last five decades (Table 1). The proportion of the population living in the urban centres has risen from 15% in 1960 to 43.3% in 2000 and is projected to rise to 60% by 2015. Total area taken up by urbanization in Nigeria during the same period increased by 131% from 2,083 in 1976 to 5,444 with an average rate of urbanization estimated to be 3.7% per year (National Population Commission, 2004). The number of urban centres i.e. settlements with population of 20,000 or more increased from 56 in 1953 to 359 in 1991 and 450 in 2000. The drivers of urbanization in Nigeria include (a) high population growth rate (b) concentration of development activities in urban centres (c) rapid growth of formal education (d) rural-urban wage differentials.`

Table 1: Socio-economic statistics of Nigeria

Total area 923,768km2
Land area 910,768km2
Water area 13,000km2
Population 88.5 million (1991),
140 million (2006)
Population growth 3.2% (2006.)
Population below poverty line 45% (2006)
Source: SOER(2006)

One of the major negative impacts of high urbanization is massive waste generation (liquid, gaseous, industrial and domestic) and attendant disposal problems resulting in a threat to the quality of air we breathe and water we consume. In general, there is a clear vicious circle linking high population growth, poverty and ecological degradation. Nigerian cities and towns are mostly horrible examples of unplanned population growth, poor town planning methods, squalor and environmental degradation which cry for immediate action. Population growth has also put a lot of pressure on our forests as the rising farming population seeks for more land for survival.

(b) Farming Practice
In the tropics, the age-old practice of shifting cultivation (“slash-and-burn”) still persists. As soil fertility declines after a few years, the farmers move to another patch of land, thus decimating large parcels of land that could have been left undisturbed. Unfortunately, we do not have enough of farmer education and encouragement to massively move them to modern techniques.

(c) Exploitation for Firewood
The survival of rural dwellers and urban poor depends on finding enough wood to cook their meals. At present, fuel wood constitutes the main source of fuel for cooking by over 76% of the Nigerian population. UNDP figures for 1993 showed Nigeria consuming 262,783 metric tonnes of fuel wood compared with 7,210 tonnes for South Africa and 35,313 tonnes for Thailand. While our dependence on fuel wood is rising in Nigeria, it has virtually ceased in the other two countries. At the present rate of fuel wood consumption, cutting may soon convert our forests to savannahs and grasslands.

(d) Uncontrolled Logging
The global demand for tropical hardwoods is increasing daily. High intensity of logging and illegal exploitation of tree species has continued to pose serious threats to the country’s forest resources and the environment (Fig. 4). The use of modern machinery such as tractors, and trucks has made logging even faster and easier, resulting in increasing rate of illegal logging and flitching. These days, illegal loggers are often armed to confront forest guards that dare to stop them.

(e) Fire
Bush fires have become a major environmental harzard in most parts of Nigeria. Indiscriminate fire is caused by farmers, smokers and hunters who look for game (Fig. 5). Through these avoidable practices, thousands of hectares of our forest is lost every year especially during the dry seasons. Unfortunately, our fire services do not have enough capacity in most cases to cope with the intensity of the fires.

(f) Petroleum Exploration Activities
Extensive exploration and production of petroleum in Nigeria’s sedimentary basins especially in the Niger Delta area has opened up such areas to massive pollution. There is the recurring threat of pollution from normal exploration and production activities such as leakages from pipelines and production platforms. The recent spate of activism in the Niger Delta region has further aggravated this threat as oil thieves now burst into pipelines leaving thousands of barrels of crude oil to flow into the swamps and creeks. The rickety and leaking barges with which the thieves transport their loot also spill huge volumes of crude oil in their trail.
The high volume of associated gas in Nigeria’s light crude coupled with a poor history of investment in gas gathering and utilization infrastructure has made the elimination of gas flaring difficult. The entire Niger Delta area is therefore still covered with gas flares with the attendant pollution of our atmosphere by huge volumes of combustion gases.
(g) Open Cast Mining
The history of poor open cast mining practices and lack of post-mining remediation measures have left large expanses of wasted land in the Nigerian landscape. The Jos Plateau area and several other parts of the country where activities of artisanal miners are flourishing have been severely ravaged with the attendant risks to inhabitants of the areas.

The preceding section clearly shows the preponderance of both natural as well as man-made features that have combined to make Nigeria one of the most environmentally stressed regions in the world. The combined effects of these features have resulted in a visible and alarming rate of degradation in our environment, causing great damage to our land and bringing sorrow and poverty to many of our people.

The continuous removal or destruction of significant areas of forest cover has resulted in a highly degraded environment with attendant reduction in biodiversity. It also causes soil erosion and in marginal lands, can lead to desertification.

Nigeria probably has the world’s highest deforestation rate of primary forests today, having lost more than half of its primary forests in the last five years (Fig. 6).

UNEP in 2006 estimated that annual deforestation in Nigeria covers 663,000ha with an annual national deforestation rate of 0.76%. Deforestation rate in the southwest geopolitical zone is as high as 1.36% which is double the national average. Data on vegetation and land use changes between 1976 and 1995 reveals that the area covered by undisturbed forests in Nigeria decreased by 53.5% from 25,951sqkm in 1976 to just 12,114sqkm in 1991 (FORMECU, 1998) (Fig.7 ).

The major driving factor for deforestation in Nigeria today is the rapidly growing population with attendant higher demand for agricultural land, livestock production and fuel wood. Unfortunately, these demands will continue to increase with the population if nothing drastic is done. The persistence of the age-old practice of shifting cultivation (“slash-and-burn”) will also continue to drive this threat as farmers will continue to move, plundering our forests as the soil fertility in the farms decline. The dependence on fuelwood for cooking by rural dwellers and urban poor further fuels deforestation while uncontrolled and indiscriminate fire by farmers and hunters has also consumed much of our forest cover.

With the increasing global demand for tropical hardwoods, many hardwood species are being recklessly exploited from large areas of natural forests and sold in both local and international markets leading to an uncontrolled decimation of our forest resources. In Ondo State for example, more than 44 percent of the 3,075sqklm forest reserve has been lost in the last 30 years due to a combination of activities mentioned above.

Between 50% and 75% of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Yobe States are under threats of desertification (Fig. 8). These ten states, with a population of about 27 million people, account for about 38% of the country’s total land area. In these areas, population pressure, resulting in overgrazing, over exploitation for fuel wood of marginal lands and aggravated drought due to global warming has accelerated the rate of desertification.

Entire villages and major access roads have been buried under sand dunes in the extreme parts of Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa, Borno and Yobe States (Fig. 9).

Indeed the total areas lost to sand dunes have increased from 812sqkm in 1976 to 4,829sqkm in 1995 (FORMECU, 1997, 1998).

In many parts of Nigeria, people have observed with astonishment that due to flood and erosion, some small rills which were crossed with a single footstep some 30 or 40 years ago are now so large as to expose the foundation of their own houses and causing gorges in their neighbourhoods (Fig. 10).

Although erosion is one of the most critical environmental problems affecting different parts of the country, it is particularly severe in areas of the country underlain by sandy formations. Classical erosion features are found in the states like Edo, Anambra, Imo and Enugu. In Anambra State for example, it affects more than 70% of the State’s land in form of sheet and gully erosion. Indeed, over 550 gullies have been mapped in Anambra State alone, with enormous soil loss and severe threat to agricultural production, homes and other civil structures (Fig. 11).

The degradation caused by erosion in Nigeria is occurring at an increasing and alarming rate, aggravated by such factors as increased agricultural activities, civil construction works, deforestation, bush burning, over grazing, drainage blockage, poor water management, urbanization and increased population pressure.

Most of Nigeria’s 853km coastline is prone to coastal erosion. This is of grave ecological concern because a large part of Nigeria’s population and economic activities are located within the coastal zone (Figs. 12 & 13).

Nigeria has an estimated population of over 25 million located in its coastal areas with economic activities which include oil and gas exploitation, agriculture, fishing, aquaculture, shipping, industries, and tourism. Over fifty highly vulnerable sites have been identified along the Nigerian coastline and all the eight coastal states are affected by erosion problems (Table 2).

Table 2: Erosion rates along the Nigerian coastal area
S/N Coastal Area Erosion rate per annum
1. Lagos Bar Beach 20-30m
2. Awoye/Molume 13.2m
3. Ugborodo/Escravos 18-14m
4. Forcados South Beach 20-22m
5. Brass Beach 16-19m
6. Bonny Beach 20-24m
7. Kulama Beach 15-20m
8. Opobo River entrance 10-1314m
Source: Ibe, 1988
Many coastal communities in estuaries along the coast have had to move upland regularly to escape being washed away by the encroaching sea (Fig. 14). For example, studies have revealed a shoreline retreat of 1.5km at Awoye/Molume coastline in Ondo State between 1971 and 1991 (Ibe, 1986, French et al, 1992 & 1993).

The driving force of coastal erosion include (a) low-lying, relatively flat coastal topography which restrains proper drainage (b) climate change leading to rise in sea level (c)reckless cutting down of mangroves which exposes the shoreline to increased energy and reduce sediment stability and (d) sand mining and dredging around beaches which deplete sand volume.

Municipal and industrial pollution is a major environmental problem in Nigeria as most cities lack proper solid waste management schemes and the monitoring and control of industrial waste is inefficient.

Even with its relatively low level of industrialization, industrial waste pollution is a major problem in Nigeria. In many cases, effluents from industrial processes are simply allowed to flow into public drains and rivers where they can percolate into surface or ground water.

The petroleum industry contributes a substantial quota to Nigeria’s environmental pollution. Between 1976 and 1997, more than 2,676 separate oil pipeline spill incidents were reported in the country (Fig. 15). Equipment malfunctioning, corrosion of aged pipelines, sabotage of oil installations by militants and oil thieves are the major drivers of this phenomenon.

Perhaps the most intractable of the petroleum industry related pollution is gas flaring, the stoppage of which has continued to remain elusive despite numerous attempts at regulation. As a by-product of oil production, Nigeria flares more gas than any other country in the world, as close to 80% of the associated gas produced from Nigeria’s oil fields are flared. Global estimates also show that flaring of Nigeria’s gas contributes significantly to the world’s carbon dioxide emission.

(f) Solid Wastes
Solid waste management has emerged as a major environmental threat for cities in developing countries worldwide (Van de Klundert et al 2003). In a survey released by UNDP in 1997, 151 mayors from around the world ranked insufficient solid waste disposal as their second most urgent urban challenges surpassed only by unemployment and followed by urban poverty.

Solid waste management has gained notoriety in Nigeria today because of its visibility and the embarrassment it has constituted to the image of the nation. Only few state capitals have been able to put in place fairly sustainable urban waste management programmes. It is therefore a common site to find mountains of waste scattered all over our cities for days or even weeks with no apparent effort displayed at getting rid of them, even with the attendant risk of air and ground-water pollution (Fig. 16).

In many parts of the country mining wastelands have now become very hazardous for people in neighbourhoods where open cast activities have taken place. When mining pits are filled with water from tailings, they become stagnant pools and thus constitute a significant environmental threat as they become breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests (Fig. 17).

In Plateau State for example, thousands of heaps of mine wastes which are now found to be radioactive were abandoned after the decline of tin mining many years back (Fig. 18). Health officials of the state have reported that laboratory analyses of the 1,100 abandoned mines scattered over five districts showed the presence of radioactive materials at concentrations that are harmful to human health and that the inhabitants here stand the risks of skin, lung and liver cancer as well as eye impairments from prolonged exposure to these radioactive wastes. Yet, these piles of the dangerous wastes remain unattended to.

Mine pits by artisanal and small scale miners of gemstones in Ijero-Ekiti, Nassarawa, Olode, Shaki, Jos, Keffi, Akwanga and other parts of Nigeria also create huge environmental hazards to farmers as many of them have been accidentally buried in abandoned pits and shafts.

Several eminent Nigerian environmentalists, researchers, pressure groups, threatened communities, government departments, agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) including NCF have been drawing attention to the perilous path along which Nigeria is threading with regards to the environment. Federal and state governments have in response, put in place a number of policy measures, regulations and several laws have been passed to contain the environmental threats and pull Nigeria back from the brink (Table 3).
Table 3: Legal and Regulatory Measures on the Environmwent in Nigeria

A number of regulatory agencies have also been established at state and federal levels to combat the environmental problems that afflict our nation. In addition, Nigeria is a signatory to several International Conventions, Protocols and Agreements aimed at partnering with other nations in solving environmental problems (Table 4).

Table 4: Multilateral Environmental Agreements (Meas)
• Convention on Biological Diversity
• Protocol on Biosafety to the Biodiversity Convention (the Cartagena Protocol)
• Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
• Protocol to the UNFCCC (Kyoto Protocol)
• Convention to Combat Desertification
• Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985)
• Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES

Several commentators, including eminent Nigerians who have delivered previous S.L. Edu Memorial Lectures have also identified the causes of and proffered serious, thought-provoking solutions to the looming environmental disaster. Yet, according to a report on the Nigerian State of Environment (2006), the result of Nigeria’s vulnerability analysis shows that more than 13 million people are presently at risk and may be relocated due to environmental degradation. Not only have these problems not abated, they seem to be worsening by the day.

With the high degree of ecological degradation we are facing in Nigeria today, the obvious threats posed by our unique natural and socioeconomic setting and the ominous disaster we face as a people, it is clear to me that the moment of truth has come. The truth is that we have not done enough and there is the need for an urgent re-evaluation of the dangers we face relative to our commitment. We must come up with new strategies that will ensure that our pronouncements are translated into effective programmes.

Although the issue of environmental protection should be of concern to all, government must lead in terms of policies, strategies, programmes and funding. Government must muster enough political will to ensure that the requisite programmes and projects designed are executed effectively. We must move from the realms of pronouncements towards the actualisation of our desires to remediate the environment and ameliorate the sufferings of our people. In this regard, a number of gaps still exist in our system that we must address before any meaningful impact can be made in our quest to maintain a sustainable environment in Nigeria. These include:

There is a visible dearth in our capacity to manage our environment. The deficiencies in capacity are both institutional and managerial.
Although we have agencies of government that are saddled with the responsibility of ameliorating and maintaining our environment both at federal and state levels, their performance has not shown enough coordination, focus and impact. Experience has also shown that the capacity of managers in many of such agencies is generally deficient technically. The level of commitment also appears to be much lower than is required to tackle the issues at hand. As a result, most of our environmental laws and regulations are flouted without official sanction. Given the enormity of the problems in our environment, it is my view that more focus and attention need to be given to the sector. I therefore recommend in this regard that the Ministry of Environment should stand alone so as to bring more attention to the sector.

Many of the man-made threats on our environment are fuelled by ignorance and non-chalance of the populace. We have not educated our people enough to convince them to turn away from bad agronomic practices, illegal felling of trees, indiscriminate lighting of fire, poor refuse disposal habits etc. Environmental issues are part of daily living, therefore, knowledge of them must be reduced to messages and languages understood by all. We therefore need to embark on an aggressive advocacy programme that will bring the populace on board as major stakeholders in the protection of our environment.

Considering the threats and the extent of degradation to which the Nigerian environment is being subjected, substantial resources are required for control, monitoring and remediation in the sector. In governance, the level and consistency of funding is usually a measure of the political will of successive administration to address a particular problem.

Table 5 gives a summary of the annual appropriation of the Federal Government to the Ministry of Environment over the last decade. Apart from 1999 when funding represented about one percent, funding to the Ministry had averaged less than 0.2 percent of the Federal budget which definitely is too low to make any meaningful impact in the sector. I am aware in this regard that two percent (2%) of the entire Federation Account is supposed to be spent on intervention programmes in the environment sector (one percent for the Federal and one percent for the state). There is however very little that is either published or known as to the details of how these resources are allocated or spent. It is my view therefore that more resources need to be allocated to the Ministry of Environment for its activities. In addition, the two percent Special Fund on Environment should be retained but should be managed as an open and transparent Conditional Grant. Through this Grant, states can access their share through a matching grant from their own budget. This will surely be a more equitable modality as there is no state in the country that has no environmental problems. The idea of making it an equitable conditional grant to be matched by states will challenge and encourage the states to participate, thereby bringing more resources to the sector.
Table 5: Budgetary Allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment.
N, billion N, billion N, billion N, billion
1999 2.500 NA 2.500 299.000 0.84
2000 1.238 0.577 1.815 702.000 0.26
2001 0.761 0.384 1.145 894.200 0.13
2002 NA 1.180 1.180 1,064.000 0.11
2003 NA 2.024 2.024 1,446.000 0.14
2004 0.910 0.631 1.541 1,189.000 0.13
2005 3.279 NA 3.279 1,800.000 0.18
2006 2.742 3.313 6.055 1,900.000 0.32
2007 1.021 NA 1.021 2,300.000 0.04
TOTAL 12.451 8.109 20.560 11,594.200 0.18
Source: Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation

Ondo State for example, has spent approximately five percent of her capital expenditure over the last decade on environmental protection ( Table 6). Although this is relatively high amongst the states of the Federation, it is still a far cry from what is required to adequately ameliorate her ecological problems and maintain the environment.

TABLE 6: Level of investment in the environmental sector in Ondo State


(Col. F/G)
Nm Nm Nm Nm Nm Nm
1996 1.800 1.800 0 3.6 527.200 0.68
1997 2.570 0.800 0 3.370 599.273 0.56
1998 7.500 3.605 0 11.105 758.258 1.47
1999 20.199 5.700 0 25.899 552.542 4.69
2000 201.720 166.440 10.342 378.502 3,207.074 11.80
2001 202.366 143.571 8.720 354.657 5,989.789 5.92
2002 420.477 96.022 10.500 526.999 5,148.573 10.24
2003 125.876 25.816 25.650 177.342 3,322.252 5.34
2004 348.456 157.062 45.217 550.735 8,548.735 6.44
2005 120.666 285.388 125.950 532.004 19,479.862 2.73
2006 712.492 340.293 392.199 1,444.984 27,918.327 5.18
2007 494.017 314.407 246.306 1,054.730 35,192.726 3.00
TOTAL 2658.139

I am convinced that if a conditional grant scheme is established for the Ecological Fund, the state would have committed more resources to the sector to ensure access to her share of the fund. With other states doing the same, this will translate to spending up to four percent of the Federation Account on the protection of our environment. If a good monitoring system can be put in place and the requisite political will is mustered from the leadership of the three tiers of government, a lot of improvement will be witnessed in our environment with this level of funding.

At the first ever National Environment Summit held on 20th October, 2008, all stakeholders from the three tiers of government converged to review the state of the Nigerian environment and concluded that it is in dire straits. This culminated into the signing of the National Environment Pledge by the President and the 36 State Governors. For the first time in our country, all tiers of government were brought to be committed to assuring a collective responsibility in tackling environmental issues.
President Umar Musa Yar’Adua noted at the ceremony that the improper exploitation of Nigeria’s rich national resources were having negative impacts on the social and economic health of the citizens, the resources themselves as well as the integrity of the ecosystem. He noted that the summit provided an opportunity for all tiers of government to device a road map to frontally confront the environmental challenges to national development. He also emphasized that a sustainable tackling of environmental issues is pivotal to the achievement of the objectives of the seven-point agenda. It is hoped that the signing of the pledge will bring in the necessary commitment and political will to enforce existing laws and regulations on environmental protection.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I must conclude by saying that Nigeria’s environmental challenges are enormous indeed. Nigeria, for instance ranked 133rd out of 142 countries surveyed in environmental sustainability with an Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) of 36.7 (CIESIN, 2002). This abysmal score underlines Nigeria’s vulnerability to environmental risks and a lack of institutional capacity to respond quickly to the threats in a sustainable manner.
A quick look at Table 6 will graphically illustrate the high level of environmental degradation in Nigeria. Between 1976 and 1995, the total area of undisturbed forests dropped by 53.3% from 25,951km2 to 12,114km2. Over the same period, the area lost to gully erosion rose from 122km2 to 1,048,845,209.461,048,845,209.461,048,845,209.4618,517km2. Similarly, the area lost to sand dunes increased from 812km2 to 4,829km2, while urbanisation increased from 2,083km2 to 5444km2.
Table 8: Environmental Changes Between 1976 and 1995
1976/78 1976/78 1993/95 1993/95
S/N Veg. & Landuse type Area (km2) % of Country Area (km2) % of Country Changes (km2)
1 Undisturbed forests 25,951 2.9 12,114 1.3 -13,837
2 Area lost to gully erosion 122 0.1 18,517 2.0 +18,395
3 Urbanisation 2,083 0.2 5,444 0.6 +3,361
4 Sand dunes 812 0.1 4,829 0.5 +1,373
Source: FORMECU (1998)

In order to successfully combat the myriad environmental problems that currently bedevil our nation, government at the three tiers must rise to the occasion and ensure that certain critical issues are tackled immediately that include:
(a) The urgent need for a reviewing, updating, re-enacting and vigorous enforcement of enabling laws on environmental compliance.
(b) Although Nigeria cooperates actively with International Agencies and is a signatory to several Environmental Conventions, very little effort is usually made to activate, domesticate and apply the articles of the Conventions for sustainable environmental development in Nigeria.
For instance, it is necessary to vigorously pursue the implementation of afforestation programmes in order to meet the 25% forest cover of total land area as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Conscious and concerted efforts also need to be made to enforce environmental compliance by all stakeholders involved in the exploitation of national resources.

(c) There is no clear definition of functions, roles and responsibilities among the tiers of government, ministries, agencies and departments involved in environmental protection and management. This had led to over-laps of functions disagreement and frictions, among these agencies.
(d) There is the need for a conscious and increased level of complementarity among the three tiers of government in the formulation of policies, enforcement of regulations and education of all and sundry on the dangers inherent in unbridled destruction of the environment.
(e) It must be made clear to all stakeholders that responsible management of Nigeria’s environmental resources is an essential component of sustainable socio-economic development and a stable, secure and prosperous society. We all must strive to balance the exploitation of our natural resources with the sustenance of an enduring ecological integrity.
(f) In spite of the magnitude of both natural and man-made threats to our environment, fiscal allocation to the sector has not matched the quantum of damage that has been done to our environment and the threats we face. There is the need for government at the three tiers to invest more on the remediation of despoiled environments as well as enforce laws to prevent further damage.
(g) The general tendency to circumvent laid down procedures and non-compliance with regulations have all combined to negate whatever modest efforts are being made by the Federal, State and Local governments to reverse the worsening trend. This corruption monster must be confronted head-on.
(h) All efforts must be made to carry the populace along in our renewed determination to confront Nigerian’s environmental threats effectively. Collaboration with Civil Society Organizations and Donor Agencies as well as advocacy to enlist the partnership of communities must be encouraged.
Finally, there should be concrete evidence of sound commitment at all the three tiers of government as well as the people to minimize the numerous threats that bedevil our environment. Otherwise, all efforts will fail. Due to Nigeria’s geographical and sociological setting, ours is a unique environment that requires constant maintenance, control and remediation. It is only a combined effort by the government and the people in a unique and proactive manner that can save us from our environment.

Once again, I thank the NCF for giving me the opportunity to speak on this crucial national issue and I thank you all for listening.


Nigeria has one of the worst environmental records in the world. In recent years, the country has seen the execution of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, widespread social and environmental problems stemming from oil operations in the Niger River delta, and the world's highest deforestation rate.

In late 1995, Nigeria's execution of eight environmental activists, notably Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ken Saro-Wiwa, made international headlines and brought worldwide recognition of the serious environmental degradation of Nigeria.

The Niger River delta of Nigeria is home to coastal rainforest, mangrove forest, and rich oil deposits. Petroleum exploration in this region by Shell Oil began in 1958, and the company has since extracted tens of billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas. While Nigeria has seen tremendous amounts of revenue from these operations, oil has had a high cost to the country. Locals, like the Ogoni tribesmen, have seen relatively little revenue from operations but plenty of problems including pollution and deforestation, and today many of these people live in miserable poverty.

In 1990, Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni to demand that Shell turn over more oil revenue to locals and clean up oil pollution. In response to these demands and an uprising among local communities, the government—then a military dictatorship—savagely put down the rebellion. Reports suggest that Shell played a role in arming the soldiers to quash the protests. In November 1995, the government executed Saro-Wiwa, while Shell responded a few weeks later by announcing it would take part in a new gas project in the delta.

During the 1990s, locals learned that extortion pays. Villagers found that by sabotaging oil installations to collect oil-spill compensation from Shell they could earn more than by marginal subsistence farming on degraded lands. Attacks on oil facilities and pipelines became ever more relentless, and the Niger River delta was an increasingly bloody place. Environmental degradation from operations continued, and by 1999 the U.N. named the delta the most threatened in the world.

In early 2006, conditions worsened in the delta. The number of kidnappings of oil workers increased as did attacks on oil facilities. Kidnappers who usually wanted ransom payments began asking for the release of jailed militants and greater rights to the region's oil. A senior Shell security official told The Economist that Nigeria was losing control of the region and oil traders began to price the risk of Nigerian civil war into future oil projections

While billions of dollars in oil revenue poured into Nigeria, most of the country's income was squandered, stolen, or spent propping up the ruling military government during this period. Despite a stipulation in the constitution requiring that 13 percent of oil revenues be channeled back into oil communities, locals saw very little money. Most community assistance in the delta actually come from Shell—not the government. In 1997, Shell spent some $36 million on community-assistance programs.

While oil has certainly had a social impact in the delta, the direct environmental effects from oil operations are probably, in general, overstated. Oil companies are easy targets because their operations are highly visible and villagers receive few benefits while shouldering the environmental and social costs. According to Moffat and Lindén (1995) there is relatively little evidence of widespread contamination from petroleum in Nigeria, partly because its crude is very light and evaporates rapidly. Moffat and Lindén say that pollution from oil activities should probably be given only a moderate priority in light of Nigeria's other severe environmental problems, namely deforestation resulting from road projects (often sponsored by oil companies), subsistence activities, logging, mining, and dam construction. However, oil production in Nigeria does contribute to global warming because the country flares (flaring refers to the burning of excess gas that comes up with crude) more gas than any other country. The methane produced has a much higher global-warming potential than carbon dioxide (64 times as active a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide).

Deforestation is a serious problem in Nigeria, which currently has one of the highest rates of forest loss (3.3 percent) in the world. Since 1990, the country has lost some 6.1 million hectares or 35.7 percent of its forest cover. Worse, Nigeria's most biodiverse ecosystems—its old-growth forests—are disappearing at an even faster rate. Between 1990 and 2005, the country lost a staggering 79 percent of these forests and since 2000 Nigeria has been losing an average of 11 percent of its primary forests per year—double the rate of the 1990s. These figures give Nigeria the dubious distinction of having the highest deforestation rate of natural forest on the planet.

Nigeria's new and more accountable government is concerned about rising deforestation and environmental degradation—which costs the country over $6 billion a year. Nevertheless, it has failed to curb illegal logging and other forms of degradation, and only 6 percent of the country is nominally protected on paper. Timber concessions have been granted in national parks, and oil-palm plantations are replacing natural forest. Past governments have tried to stem forest loss through a ban on log exports, promoting of agroforestry and community-based conservation schemes, increasing energy and fuel efficiency, and encouraging plantations and reforestation programs to achieve a target of 25 percent forest cover. But the impact appears to be limited given Nigeria's astounding deforestation rate.

As its forests fall, Nigeria has seen wildlife populations plummet from poaching and habitat loss, increasing desertification and soil erosion. There has also been a drop in the productivity of coastal and inland fisheries, and mounting social unrest in parts of the country. It appears that Nigeria's swift economic development has exacted a high toll on its people and environment.

Despite its environmental degradation, Nigeria has striking biodiversity. Home to gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, and elephants, the country has 899 species of birds, 274 mammals, 154 reptiles, 53 amphibians, and 4,715 species of higher plants. Recent articles | Nigeria news updates | XML

A New Idea to Save Tropical Forests Takes Flight
(06/29/2009) Every year, tens of millions of acres of tropical forests are destroyed. This is the most destabilizing human land-use phenomenon on Earth. Tropical forests store more aboveground carbon than any other biome. They harbor more species than all other ecosystems combined. Tropical forests modulate global water, air, and nutrient cycles. They influence planetary energy flows and global weather patterns. Tropical forests provide livelihoods for many of the world’s poorest and marginalized people. Drugs for cancer, malaria, glaucoma, and leukemia are derived from rainforest compounds. Despite all these immense values, tropical forests are vanishing faster than any other natural system. No other threat to human welfare has been so clearly documented and simultaneously left unchecked. Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (when more than 100 heads of State gathered to pledge a green future) 500 million acres of tropical forests have been cut or burned. For decades, tropical deforestation has been the No. 1 cause of species extinctions and the No. 2 cause of human greenhouse gas emissions, after the burning of fossil fuels. For decades, a few conservation heroes tried their best to plug holes in the dikes, but by and large the most diverse forests on Earth were in serious decline.

Cameroon and Nigeria to protect world's rarest gorilla
(09/05/2008) Cameroon and Nigeria have agreed to protect the the Cross River gorilla, world's most endangered gorilla, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped broker the deal.

Rare gorillas use weapons to attack forest-intruding humans
(12/05/2007) Following the first documented cases of the Cross River gorillas -- world's most endangered gorilla -- throwing sticks and clumps of grass when threatened by people, the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) has announced new research to better protect the species from poaching and encroachment.

Time running out for world's rarest gorilla
(06/21/2007) Time is running out for the world's rarest subspecies of gorilla, the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) from the mountainous border region between Cameroon and Nigeria. With less than 300 individuals remaining, conservationists have drawn up a new plan to save the great ape from extinction.

$100 laptop for poor children ships
(11/20/2006) The first ten $100 laptops have shipped from their Taiwanese manufacturer according to a report from News Corporation. The One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) -- the nonprofit group behind the device -- reportedly tested the laptops, which were hand-built, at the U.S. State Department last week. The laptops have been billed as a durable low-cost PC for children in developing countries. OLPC says it will begin production once it has orders for 5-10 million machines. Already the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Libya, Nigeria, Thailand, and Israel have expressed interest in the machines which have received support from Google, AMD, Brightstar, News Corporation, and Red Hat, but not Microsoft.

Goodbye to West Africa's Rainforests
(01/22/2006) West Africa's once verdant and extensive rainforests are now a historical footnote. Gone to build ships and furniture, feed hungry mouths, and supply minerals and gems to the West, the band of tropical forests that once extended from Guinea to Cameroon are virtually gone. The loss of West Africa's rainforests have triggered a number of environmental problems that have contributed to social unrest and exacerbated poverty across the region.

Nigeria - Environment

Many of Nigeria's environmental problems are those typical of developing states. Excessive cultivation has resulted in loss of soil fertility. Increased cutting of timber has made inroads into forest resources, exceeding replantings. By 1985, deforestation claimed 1,544 square miles of the nation's forest land. Between 1983 and 1993 alone, Nigeria lost 20% of its forest and woodland areas. Oil spills, the burning of toxic wastes, and urban air pollution are problems in more developed areas. In the early 1990s, Nigeria was among the 50 nations with the world's highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 96.5 million metric tons, a per capita level of 0.84 metric tons. Water pollution is also a problem due to improper handling of sewage. Nigeria has 221 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources. Fifty-four percent is used for farming activity and 15% for industrial purposes. Safe drinking water is available to 78% of urban dwellers and 49% of the rural population. The principal environmental agencies are the Environmental Planning and Protection Division of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, and the analogous division within the federal Ministry of Industry.

In 2001, 26 of Nigeria's mammal species were threatened. Nine types of birds and 16 plant species were also endangered. Endangered species include the drill, Presuu's red colobus, and the Ibadan malimbe. The Sahara oryx has become extinct in the wild.

Read more: Environment - Nigeria - problem, farming

Old Growth Forests And Their Value

There was a time when the earth was nearly covered in trees or ancient forests. Hard to believe as we look around today and see an ocean of homes or cleared land.
Ancient forests that once covered the land has been dwindled down to almost 20 percent of its historic standing. And half of this 20 percent has been removed just in the last thirty years. Even with deforestation's estimated contribution to global warming, ancient trees are still being removed due to illegal logging and industrial scale farming.

So what is an 'old growth forest'? Definitions state that it is a presence of old trees, dead standing snags, a multilayered canopy dominated by large overstory trees, and accumulations of large dead woody material.

Other requirements for an old growth forest include:

• The forest habitat possesses relatively mature, old trees;
• The old-growth trees have long continuity on the same site;
• The forest itself has not been subjected to significant inhabitation by mankind that has altered the appearance of the landscape and its ecosystems, has not been subjected to logging, and has inherently progressed per natural tendencies.

Many wonder why old-growth forests cannot just be replanted and whether that would provide the same amount of carbon and nutrients as an old growth forest would. The answer is no, old-growth forests take years to build rich communities of plants and animals, which contribute to the biodiversity of the planet. Old-growth forests also serve as a reservoir for species that cannot thrive or easily regenerate in younger forests. Such forests also provide invaluable medicines that are being discovered to cure ailments. And last, old-growth forests store large amounts of carbon above and below the ground, either as humus or in wet soils as peat.

Because of the large amounts of carbon stored in old forests in the wood, soil humus and peat, when these forests are cut or destroyed, the carbon dioxoide or methane is released into the environment, agitating the already current ecosystem.

Old-growth forests store large amounts of carbon, which is stored in wood, soil humus and peat. When forests are cut, the trees' wood, soil humus and peat all decay, releasing the carbon as carbon dioxide or methane. Logging practices often include burning of the logged area, releasing further CO2. Release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and then trying to counteract it with the planting of new trees has proven counter-productive. To replace the old forests and recapture the benefits these trees provide can take centuries.

Old forest trees also have a staggered ages, something a new forest planted would not have. As trees regenerate and grow at different times along with varying spatial location to the main canopy, the regeneration pattern can easily be disturbed by humans.

A forest in old-growth stage has a mix of tree ages, due to a distinct regeneration pattern. New trees regenerate at different times from each other, because each one of them has different spatial location relative to the main canopy and hence each one receives a different amount of light. This regeneration pattern is different from the regeneration of trees after a major disturbance, when trees regenerate on the site in relatively similar time. In younger forests, trees have similar ages, because they all started to grow at the same time, after the old forest stand was killed.

The biggest issue with disturbing what Mother Nature has spent millions of years creating is the tipping of the biodiversity scale. Biodiversity is the representation of a large number and wide range of species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms. Scientists consider biodiversity important to the life of the planet as it can provide important balance in cases where when life forms are limited, one organism can wipe out huge amounts of crops - as in the Irish Potato Blight.

Today, biodiversity is most strongly represented in ancient forests, and more specifically in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. This forest along contains close to 20,000 plant species, 1350 vertebrates, and millions of insects, about half of which occur nowhere else in the world.

Describing the benefits of ancient-forests can be complex and scientific when related to the benefits of the whole planet. But on a human scale, they represent our heritage and a beauty that is hardly irreplaceable.

Your Most Cost Efficient Clean Power Resources Offered Is The Perpetual Motion Machines

The unprecedented energy predicament that people are having can be fixed by using perpetual motion machines. month after month your electricity bills is shooting up. The power companies are successful at your expense. The origin of the power predicament may be tracked to greater than before want from homeowners and the increasing charge of the cost of energy due to economic decline. The resolution to this despair can be found in implementing a electromagnetic motor instrument that makes use of magnets and their magnetic forces to generate power.

Faults of substitute alternative resources

The energy received from solar panel power and windmill power is extremely popular as substitute green energy resources nevertheless they each possess their very own disadvantages. The first shortcoming is that the electricity created is not normally continual or adequate to power a complete house utilizing just one of these renewable energy apparatuses.

Another shortcoming is they are a great deal dependent on climatic conditions. As an example, on cloudy days or after the sun goes down solar energy generated utilizing solar collective cells may not be satisfactory for your own needs. So you can not rely on solar panels entirely. Just as a windmill depends on a certain quantity of wind to make sufficient energy to power your residence.

Perpetual motion machines make power via magnets that boast numerous advantages over alternate alternative energy resources like solar collective cell and wind turbine. free energy motor generators are able to be assembled enormously simply at your residence and utilized whenever. An individual can make a electromagnetic motor mechanism by using materials that can be without difficulty bought from all local hardware stores, such as Lowes or Home Depot.

You ought to also acquire a very detailed DIY guide which will be able to supply you with thorough instructions on by what means to assemble your own free energy motor apparatus. It is wise to pay out some money and acquire the right supplies rather than wasting money on inferior goods. You will be ale to obtain the supplies you will require for approximately $150.

Technical growths have made the innovation of perpetual motion machines very much a actuality. People in all countries are enjoying the benefits day after day.

The benefits of electric motor generators

The mechanism might be your own item of pride and a piece of home adornment. You may delightfully exhibit your scientific learning to friends and astound them.

The overunity motor device has huge capability that when realized can bring to an end your power issues. An free energy generator is able to be used as an alternate to standard energies which we have been relying on for so long.

Taking into consideration the price that goes in building a generator and the future expense of maintenance are so small, perpetual motion machines may be simply called such as one of the most reasonably priced alternative energy sources offered.

A credit to researchers and technology this notion of utilizing magnets to create electricity has grown to be a actuality. This breakthrough is possibly the most important one for the existing generation which has to rely on energy of a particular type in their every day living. We may just about positively guess that perpetual motion machines are able to change the way we exist and may make life simpler and easier for yet to come generations.


Environment as the name implies simply means our surroundings and natural world.
Some of the natural things among us include:
1. Trees
2. Mountains
3. Rivers
4. Air

As beautiful as our environment looks, there are still other things that make our environment not to be conducive for us; this will lead us to environmental pollution.

Environmental pollution is defined as the release of toxic harmful substances into the environment by their natural force or man and his resources. In their words environmental pollution is the release of harmful substances into the environment that are harmful to man, these substances are called pollutants.
There are four major types of environmental pollution, this include:
1. Air pollution
2. Land pollution
3. Water pollution
4. Noise pollution

AIR POLLUTION: This is a pollution that affects the air around us.
1. Burning from vehicle exhaust, coal mining and cement factory
2. Industrial processes such as electric plants that use radioactive substances.
3. Burning of fuel in cars, other combustion engines and some industrial processes

1. It causes suffocation
2. It causes irritation of the eye, lungs and skin
3. It irritates the respiration system
4. It reduces visibility

1. Chemical waste should discharge into the air through fumes chambers.
2. Industries should be sited far away from residential areas.
3. Conditions must be created for complete combustion of fuel in internal combustion engines

LAND POLLUTION : It is the pollution that affects our land
1. Refuse from homes, offices, industries and markets
2. Sewage from homes and offices
3. Chemical waste from industries
4. Oil drilling or oil spillage

1. It causes offensive odour when refuse decay
2. It can cause respiratory disorder
3. It destroys plants and animals life
4. I prevents proper use of land

1. Refuse should be burnt in incinerators
2. Sewage should be properly treated before disposal
3. Urban waste should be burnt or braced

WATER POLLUTION: This is the pollution that affects our water.
1. Sewage from city sewage city system
2. Chemical wastes from industries and ships
3. Excreta or faces from humans and animals
4. Oil spillage
5. pesticide washed by erosion from farms

1. It makes water unfit for human consumption
2. It destroys aquatic plants and animals
3. It produces unpleasant odours
4. It serve as a medium for the growth of pathogens

1. Their should be efficient and proper sewage disposal system
2. Dumping of refuse or petrol-chemical by-products into river should be avoided
3. Government or local authorities should strictly monitor all industrial waste.
4. Industries should be sited far away from residential areas.

1. Noise from factories
2. Thunder noise
3. Aeroplane and car noise
4. Generator noise

1. It causes loss of hearing or deafness
2. It can cause emotional disorder
3. It can cause high blood pressure

1. There should be reduction of noise from loud speakers and car sans
2. Railway and airport should be sited far away from residential areas
3. There should be installation of soundproof in industries and generators

Environment as I have earlier stated include everything around us. But there are certain thing that has made this environment not to be suitable for us, which I termed environmental pollution.
Environmental pollution is of four types: Air, Water, Land and Noise.
Environmental pollution can cause respiratory disorder, bad drinking water, offensive odour, irritating environment e.t.c.
We can check thE environmental pollution by providing proper sewage line, burning of bin waste in incinerator, locating of industries far from residential areas e.t.c. if this and many more are implied our environment will be suitable for us.


Halidu Mohammed Tasihu


"Air" the most Vital substance of life have been the most abused natural endowment by its benefactors.
Air pollution is one of the dangerous thing in human life. what are the courses of Air pollution?.
It is coursed by industries like oil refineries, gas plant, bush burning and other.
we can stop indiscriminate bush burning.
If proper measures is taking by most of the industries like gas plant and oil refineries to regulate the smoking condition of the air.
Government on their own should enact policies that will protect the environment ; THEN our children can sleep and wake up stronger and healthier.



Environmental Pollution are pollution that affect's our environment and it's not good for Humman Health.

Courses of Environmental Pollution:



Environmental Pollution is one of the major problems in every man's Life.

How/what can we do to improve the Environmental Pollution

Dumping of Refuse in an authorised location

Proper water ways, to stop blockage.

Why we need to improve our environment, to make a better living and also to improve our health statues.



The issue of our environment as regards to our HEALTH STATUES can not be over


The law is resiprocative in nature...