In observance of the 2023 International Biodiversity Day (IBD), stakeholders like Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and Catholic Bishop of Ibadan have come together to emphasize the need for collaborative efforts to implement sustainable actions that will preserve our precious ecosystem.
As reported by CEOAFRICA, the profound declaration emerged at a momentous event held in the Oyo State capital, Ibadan, which was specifically organized to observe International Biodiversity Day. Distinguished attendees included the revered Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese, His Grace, Most Rev Dr Gabriel Abegunrin, who shared enlightening insights during the gathering.
During his address, Most Rev Gabriel Abegunrin unveiled an ambitious initiative initiated by the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria. With an unwavering commitment to the conservation of Biodiversity, each diocese has been entrusted with planting 20,000 trees annually, setting the stage for a remarkable undertaking in safeguarding the ecosystem.
Speaking passionately during the event, Archbishop Gabriel shared his vision: "We want to stop desertification. Again, to make the soil rich, if there are plants on it, the soil will generate the Food we need, and wherever there are lots of greens, oxygen is plentiful there. Maybe the reason some people are dropping dead is because of a lack of oxygen."
Abegunrin emphasized the manifold benefits of planting trees: "Food will also be plentiful when we plant things. There are a lot of gains behind it that human beings can benefit from, as over a billion people are suffering from hunger in our society, and this is one of the things that would alleviate hunger. And our soil is rich. This is a big effort we all should do."
In addition to Abegunrin's impactful speech, Prof. Ayoade Ogunkunle, President of the Nigeria Institute for Soil Science in Abuja and Chairman of GIS Konsult, underscored the importance of knowledge sharing and public education. He urged disseminating information to raise awareness about the destructive human activities that harm the ecosystem.
During his address, Ogunkunle stated, "People like us, who understand the consequences of ecosystem destruction, are responsible for ensuring that those engaged in soil-related practices, such as farmers and road construction workers, are well-informed about the varying qualities of soils. It is imperative to prioritize the preservation of the finest soil quality."
By advocating for soil awareness, Ogunkunle seeks to empower practitioners and stakeholders to understand that soils possess diverse attributes, warranting the preservation and protection of high-quality soil resources.
His insightful remarks shed light on the significance of informed decision-making and responsible actions to safeguard the ecosystem, fostering a greater appreciation for preserving our vital natural resources.
During his informative presentation, Mr. David Afolayan, the Chief Executive Officer of GIS Konsult and Coordinator of the Agro-Biodiversity Conservation Project, emphasized the transition from agreement to action among signatories of COP15, as expected by the United Nations (UN).
Afolayan revealed, "We have identified this community as a biodiversity-rich environment, and as part of their celebration, they have pledged to restore Biodiversity actively. We are currently naming and tagging trees in the area, creating a digital platform that will enhance the knowledge of future generations."
He explained, "We are collaborating with various scientific bodies to gather detailed knowledge about our environment and ecosystem."
Afolayan announced a noteworthy plan to plant 700 trees in the Dominican community, which will serve as a model for schools throughout the state and Nigeria. The initiative aims to identify and protect endangered tree species while planting new trees.
Encouraging wider participation, Afolayan called upon individuals, schools, and organizations to establish conservation gardens to preserve Biodiversity.
In his address, Dr. Patrick Adebola, the Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), emphasized the institute's ongoing efforts to educate farmers on environmentally friendly farming practices.
The CRIN ED who was respresented by Mr. Michael Okeniyi underscored the significance of educating farmers to ensure the preservation of the earth's biological components and promote sustainable development.
"CRIN is deeply invested in the agroecosystem, and in light of farmers' activities, there are threats to Biodiversity that can exacerbate the issue of climate change. To mitigate these challenges, CRIN discourages cutting trees during land clearance for farming and promotes the use of botanical chemicals that do not harm the ecosystem," Adebola stated.
Dr. Timothy Ajiboye, representing the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), delivered a keynote address underscoring the vital role of Biodiversity in human well-being, environmental sustainability, health, medicine, and land preservation for food production.
During his speech, Ajiboye emphasized, "Biodiversity encompasses microorganisms, fauna, and flora, all of which are crucial for our overall well-being. We must protect our environment and take action by planting trees today."
Dr. Adedotun Afolayan, President of the Society for Conservation of Biology, echoed the sentiment, stating that the commemoration of International Biodiversity Day serves as a call to action to restore lost Biodiversity.
Afolayan emphasized, "Everyone must play a role in saving Biodiversity, whether threatened, endangered, or critically endangered. It all begins with small actions."
Fr. Paul Akpomie, Prior of the Dominican Community Ibadan, expressed the community's commitment to aligning with the United Nations Charter on Biodiversity. He highlighted their proactive efforts to preserve indigenous crops, transforming principles into tangible actions.
Additionally, the Master of Students from the Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Walker (Nigeria and Ghana) stressed the importance of deliberate tree planting, urging individuals to make conscious choices to support environmental sustainability.
The event, organized by GIS Konsult in collaboration with the Dominican Community, supported by CEOAFRICA marked the 50th anniversary of the Dominican Chapel and the 700th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Thomas Aquinas.
CEOAFRICA also celebrates International Biodiversity Day, which is celebrated annually on May 22nd, with this year's theme focusing on transitioning from agreement to action to "Build Back Biodiversity."