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Protecting plants, animals for environmental sustainability

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FLORA (plants)  and fauna (animals)  are very important to human lives.  Plants  and animals produce  oxygen  and carbon dioxide without which life would not be possible. They also  help in the  sustenance of our environment.

Just as different parts of the body have their own functions,  each plant and animal in the world brings something to the environment that another plant or animal, including man, will rely on. This creates a balance of life that enables the life cycle to survive.

It is  proven  scientifically,  that  plants  produce the oxygen that is breathed by the animals and in turn, the animals exhale the carbon dioxide that the  plants need to live. One cannot live out the other and the humans cannot live without either.

There is a connection between plant,  animal and man. It starts from the primary producers, the plants and ends with the highest consumer – man.

It is unfortunate that the  destruction of the rainforests has destroyed half of the world’s species of plants, animals and microorganisms. Birds and animals are in part responsible for keeping the rainforest alive. They spread seeds through their faeces and allow new trees to germinate.  Destruction  of trees  has affected bird habitat and correspondingly, many plant species.

An environmentalist,  Benedictine Okafor, said that there were lots of factors that impact extinction of world’s fauna and flora which include the human quest for money and power.    She observed that this has created a world in which the ecological balance of flora and fauna is being gradually destroyed. In extreme instances, this has caused the extinction of entire species due to destruction of habitat  and food

Okafor observed with dismay that  people  fell trees without understanding  the damages they  cause to  the environment.     Recently,  the Minister of Environment, Malam Ibrahim Jibril, in a  Two-Day Interactive Workshop for Sensitisation and Awareness Creation On Wood Export Procedure and CITES Implementation In Nigeria, called on wood and allied dealers to protect the wild flora and fauna in the country, for a sustainable environment.

He said that  flora  and fauna were renewable natural resources endowment of every society and they provide sustenance of livelihoods at various levels of economic development which has contributed significantly to the economic development of advanced countries like the US, Canada and Finland.

Jibril  noted that in developing countries like Nigeria, they underpin people’s livelihoods and economic development in areas such as furniture, construction, housing, food security, medicare and environmental services. He cautioned that “Illegal trade on wild flora and fauna resources must, therefore, be stopped. Reason,  “It threatens the environment, deprives communities of their livelihoods, decreases revenues for governments, for businesses and increases the probability of conflicts and insecurity, in addition to jeopardising the survival of species.”

He went further to  say that government is aware of these socio-economic aspects of forest operations, particularly in creating rural employment, generating income, support livelihoods and enhance poverty reduction. “These socio-economic aspects of forest operations are all in line with the Economic Growth Recovery Plan (EGPR), seeking for benefits from various ways of economic diversification from non-oil exports. He added that government is also aware of the results of large trade volumes between nations and the effects on the economy,”.

The minister said that the consumption of flora and fauna products and services were expected to be compatible with economic development, social benefits and environmental sustainability. He said that one of the most pressing issues, therefore, was ensuring a balance between both ends.

According to him, sustainable utilisation of these resources calls for monitoring of market and trade patterns.“It also calls for ensuring compliance with regulations, standards, procedures and process for access and ensuring the rights of generations yet unborn to the enjoyment of same, as secured,'”

The minister said that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was an international treaty to control, and regulate the use of species of plants and animals that were threatened, endangered or are at the verge of being extinct. He said that the convention was domesticated in Nigeria through the National Wildlife Protection Act 2016, which sought to protect specific flora and fauna species that were indigenous to the country from going extinct.

According to him, under these two regulations, the plants and animals and their derivatives, listed under Schedule/Appendix l, are not to be traded at international markets.

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