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Nigeria: Deforestation - Cutting Down Our Lives

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
30 December 2010
Publisher Name: 
Abdulaziz Abdulaziz30 December 2010
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Climate change is no longer an abstract term or a scientific jargon with no local, humane touch. Scientists say the increasing change in climatic condition, with its devastating effects on the environment, is not only caused by huge industries or some remote factors, but also our lifestyles contribute a great deal towards global warming which, in turn, causes climate change.

One of these practices that have taken a toll on the environment is indiscriminate cutting down of trees, better known as deforestation.

Each tree felled means danger to the environment and danger to human existence, due to the myriad of problems resulting from inadequacy of trees within the ecosystem.

However, many people take to the practice of felling down trees largely to make up for their energy need as in cooking or for other domestic and industrial purposes. The concern, however, is that while more trees are being cut down, few trees are being planted to replace the lost ones.


Hajiya Hauwa Sani is a food seller in Kano. According to her, cooking with firewood obtained from cut down trees is the only way she could provide her blossoming catering business with fuel. "I grow up to learn of cooking with fire woods only. I believe it is a nice way of cooking, despite the smoke, because it enables the food to get cooked promptly and perfectly, using small amount of money." She told this reporter. According to her, she knows of other cooking methods, but they are too expensive to afford.

However, Hajiya Hauwa noted that over the years, she has noticed certain effects of working with the firewood for cooking. Among the consequences she noticed is deteriorating health condition which gives rise to chest pains and eyes problems. "Smoke from some brands of firewood can be itchy in the eyes, but it is not often that we get such type," she added.

Harmful practice

Commenting on the consequences of deforestation, Dr. Adamu Tanko, a climatologist with the Geography Department, Bayero University, noted: "The idea of cutting down trees actually to do with the reduction in the capacity of the environment to absolve the emitted energy.

Normally, trees act as emission sinks, so the moment we cut down trees it means there is no natural system that will absorb. That is the relationship between what is cut off and what is left for the environment to adjust itself naturally."

By deforestation, it means that the natural functions of trees in balancing the ecosystem would be lost. According to Tanko, "trees absorb carbon emissions from our cars, from our industries, from our motor bikes, from our houses during cooking; all of these carbons get into the atmosphere, so the trees we see around absorb them."

Lack of absorption means that the carbon emissions will remain in the atmosphere and gets to affect the global climatic system

"The more carbon we have in the atmosphere, the more it gets to cause the blanketing effect - it blankets the global environment. It does not allow for the energy to be lost into the atmosphere," said Tanko.

Such carbon gases, he noted, "block their passage into the atmosphere and for that we begin to see the energy become trapped within the global environment and for that you will have a lot of warmth and with the warmth it begins to affect the climatic characteristics of the environment.

If it happens for quite some time, then it begins to get in the way of climatic factors; all the climatic factors will be affected."

Forbidden Act

Islam, according to Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abba Adamu Koki, has forbidden cutting down of trees, except in circumstances where such acts become necessary.

"Islam is concerned about planting and nursing trees for the richness of the soil and benefit of the humans and other creatures," Sheikh Koki said.

The Islamic preacher noted that Islam has forbidden believers to do anything that could harm fellow human beings. Therefore, according to him, since felling down trees could cause hardship to people, it is unlawful for any muslim faithful to do it.

"Deforestation is unislamic, especially at a time like this when we are faced with several environmental problems as a result of cutting down of trees," he alluded.

According to him, Prophet Muhammad had ordered his companions not to cut down any tree while launching assault on any town during battles.

He said the Prophet admonished his companions and other muslims to plant trees and promised reward of Allah to anybody that planted and nursed a tree.

The cleric, therefore, condemned the current mode of war in which bombs are dropped on targets without recourse to effect on the environment.

"Since we know the effects of deforestation on the environment which can hinder farming activities, deny us chance to build storey buildings and cause scarcity of drinking water, we should avoid it. Therefore, cutting down of trees is not good, rather we should encourage planting more trees as did the prophet," Sheikh Koki maintained.


However, a Kano resident, Malam Auwalu Minjibir, said talking about climate change is just a hallmark of idleness. According to him, if people have things to worry about they would have no time to discuss anything about climate change. According to him, any tree which is felled down would spring up naturally; therefore, there is no need of any worry about deforestation. But, according to him, he has planted many trees.

Malam Munjibir opined that stopping the use of fire wood as cooking fuel is unrealistic. According to him, average family cannot afford gas cooker which, he said, is costly. "Previously, nobody heard of gas cooker; we cooked with cow dung and cornstalk, but we can no longer use that now. You can't ask any housewife to cook with dung or stalks now; therefore, the only alternative for a poor man like me is firewood, which is generally affordable," he stated.


Contrary to the widespread belief about lack of alternative to fire wood for cooking, Tanko enthused. "We take it for granted that firewood is the only source of energy available, no. Actually, there are numerous other energy sources; fundamentally, we have the solar which is from the sun and the sun is always there, is always available.

We have the wind, which is basically always available; we have even the waste, which we generate all over. We have some of the farm practices like production of rice; from our rice fields, we do generate a lot of energy and with this, with the development of some scientific means, we could begin to harness these resources which can serve household needs and many other things."

According to him, such means of generating energy are not only readily available but also cleaner and environmental friendly.

"They could call for sustainable development, they are better to use, we will be healthier; like now, most of our women who use the firewood get to affect their eyesight and lungs and other health hazards.

cliaSo, there are so many things that are wrong with the use of firewood, but if we continue to use it, it will continue to affect our environment, health and our wellbeing altogether," noted Tanko.

To checkmate this trend, Tanko advised, "What can be done is for us to begin to think of some pro-environmental policies. Let's begin to think of environment, let people begin to develop other ways of energy; lets begin to harness our solar and wind. Let's begin to be tapping the energy from our waste like REMASAB, they can have the way by which they tap energy from the entire dumps field that they have in Kano.

For example, we have the Goethe Institute in Kano, they are now using the solar, it is not quite expensive, we could see from them. They have done it and now they have cleaner environment that is cleaner and cooler, no noise."


Extpub | by Dr. Radut