Experts from the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) have presented tree planting as a key solution, among others, to mitigate air pollution at seminar to commemorate the 2019 World Environment Day, with the theme “#BeatAirPollution”.
At the seminar held at the Federal College of Forestry, Ibadan on Thursday, June 6, the Director-General of FRIN, Professor Adeshola Adepoju, represented by Dr Felix Idumah, a director at FRIN, emphasised that issues of the environment must be a concern to everyone.
In his opening remarks, he said that air pollution is a global problem especially in industrialised countries. But because air cannot be confined to one place, air pollution in one city will affect neighbouring ones. Air pollution in Lagos for instance, will affect Ibadan, he explained.
According to the DG, air pollution claims seven million lives every year; and that by 2050 food production will have dropped by 50 per cent due to air pollution. “Therefore, air pollution should be of concern to all of us.” The DG advocated tree planting to deal with the menace of air pollution.
Provost of the college, Professor Funmilayo Aderounmu, remarked that environment determines the healthiness. “We must be conscious of how we treat the environment. We must think on individual level how to salvage the environment. If the environment is not well protected, then we are in a crisis.” She told her audience to be conscious of what causes pollution and learn what to do solve it.
There were two presentations at the seminar. The first was by FRIN’s Dr Gloria Anguruwa, titled, “Air pollution, environment and health: Forest to the rescue.”
In the presentation, she pointed out household air pollution related deaths were highest in Africa. She said air pollution poses serious challenge to human health, in that one third of deaths from stroke; lung cancer and heart disease is attributed to it, quoting World Health Organisation (WHO).
About 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution, according to a research she quoted.
Worldwide, an estimated 3.7 million premature deaths (under age 60) were found to be attributable to ambient air pollution.
Dr Anguruwa gave statistics showing that vehicle emission was the greatest contributor to air pollution with 23 per cent. Industrial emission came next at 19 per cent, followed by power plants at seven per cent. Generators and refuse burning followed at four per cent.
For solutions, she suggested electrification of transport, clean cooking, biomass briquette for power plant; 24/7 electricity supply.
Dr Anguruwa added that forestry policies that deal with the articulation of courses of actions to achieve specific objectives should be instituted. An example is a ban on deforestation as has been done in Norway.
The FRIN expert also mentioned ficus exasperata, a species commonly called ‘sand paper tree’, that can be planted in houses in order to purify the air.
In the second presentation, Mrs Funmi Okanlawon, also of FRIN, said that forests act as carbon sinks, absorb pollutants, and slow down their movements. She advised government to institute “one tree per home policy” for tree planting.
In an exclusive with Ecoscope, Dr Adepoju said the pervasive nature of air pollution called for disciplined actions towards the environment.
He said, “All of us must be disciplined in what we send into the air,” adding that if one was not affected by an act of air pollution it would definitely affect a loved one living in a city elsewhere.