Cut Down Trees In Abuja And Pay A Fine Of N100,000
Cut down trees in Abuja and pay a fine of N100,000. It has been reported that the government of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, known as the Federal Capital Territory Administration, has just announced that anyone found cutting down trees in their private compounds or public places in the Federal Capital Territory, shall be made to pay a fine of N100,000.
It is not clear whether the fine is to be paid per tree cut, or collectively for any number of trees that the offender is caught cutting down.
I think the new law should be specific. People could be funny. What if a resident cuts down a hundred trees, with a prepared cheque of a N100,000 in his pocket waiting for the government to come and cash out?
That means, the offender just paid a thousand naira to cut down an invaluable tree. Wow.
Anyway, one can still look at it from the perspective of the cup being half full. Trees are much more valuable than N100,000, but just because we never had the culture of valuing the environment, this is a good start. That is, if the FCTA is determined to enforce it.
But on a realistic note, monetary penalty is not enough to deter Abuja people if the person is determined to cut down trees in his or her compound, especially those living in the opulent parts of the city.
Someone, for instance, who has just bought a property for N1billion – or rented it for N20million – can afford to pay N100,000 to assuage his/her hedonistic cravings. He can even mow down a forest to construct a swimming pool, mini children’s park, interlocked parking lot (for, say, 13 exotic cars), and a court of artificial (plastic) grass imported from Asia.
Let us face it. Abuja is a city of class conscious people, some of them putting up a fake façade of I-have-arrived glamour, to the extent that any whiff of village life must be extinguished and fumigated in order to fit into the phantasmagoria of contrived cosmopolitan debauchery.
Outrageous as it sounds, the Abuja rich would rather install a synthetic tree than have a real one – just because he would boast to his bloated political pals that he spent some thousand dollars to import the fake one.
This is why I think that the FCT administration has yet to finish its home work. The government should look more towards reputational punishment for such environmental infraction as cutting down of trees.
Meanwhile, there are many reasons why trees are very important to everyone, but especially those living in the nation’s capital.
If we are yet to realize this truth, let it sink in now. Abuja is a Northern ecosystem, and therefore is in need of more trees than the former capital, Lagos.
Firstly, trees regulate the water cycle, which is the process by which water falls to the ground as rain. It is then absorbed by trees and other plants, then released back in to the air as transpiration.
This means that the trees in Abuja constantly “drink” water so that it can release it back into the hot atmosphere for us to have optimum levels of humidity in our air.
A single tree typically releases around 250 – 400 gallons of water back into the air every single day. So, when you cut down an Abuja tree, you have destroyed a 400 gallon-per-day natural air conditioner. Why then would you complain when Abuja becomes unbearably hot?
Secondly, trees provide jobs, all the way from rainforest care to tree planting; from fruit harvests to biological and botanical research.
When Abuja first opened, there were what was known as “forests” – clusters of pristine shrubs and trees. These green zones are nowhere to be found today.
If it were in saner climes, these foliated areas would have turned into job-creating hubs, ranging from botanical research to horticulture.
Yet, we can see that the perennial need for horticulturalists has made Nigeria an importer of exotic plants. What a shame!
These forests would have provided education for our young ones, while creating a whole ecosystem for varieties of games and wildlife, which sustains the local people.
This is one of the reasons Abuja’s indigenous communities are lamenting. Concrete jungle is not a universal home.
For many small, often rural communities, without trees there would be no way to sustain local people.
While it could be argued that deforestation also create jobs, but this work is not sustainable in the long term. Once the trees are gone, the work is gone too.
Thirdly, trees play a very important role in improving the quality of the soil around them in numerous ways.
As part of their carbon-filtering properties, they remove carbon and other noxious substances from the soil, allowing other plants to flourish. Good quality soil should contain no more than 2% carbon.
However, in heavily forested areas it can be as low as 0.05%. In fact, land that is surrounded by trees can double crop production because of the soil-purifying effect of trees.
Hence, Abuja’s green housewives and husbands who want to start a small garden at the back of their yard should realize that this will not be possible without trees. The Western world, where such hobbies are copied from, has so much respect for trees.
Fourthly, trees prevent soil erosion; which can easily be seen in the fact that areas that have been deforested are much more vulnerable to desertification.
The principle is that trees use their trunks and foliage to form a natural barrier to winds and floods, which slows the forces of nature down and helps to prevent bad weather from becoming a natural disaster.
In short, anywhere in the world trees create a natural protection to the land.
It is because Abuja trees were massively destroyed when the city was being built, that is why some parts of Abuja are vulnerable to flooding events.
Even now, estate developers do not put trees into consideration. As a result, there are no natural barriers to such onslaughts from nature.
Tree roots perform a vital function in holding the soil together, preventing it from erosion. In deforested areas, there is nothing to keep the soil in place or slow the speed of incoming winds or floods.
Therefore, a period of high winds or rain is free to sweep away all of the loose soil, turning Abuja’s outskirts into flood plains and semi-desert.
Fifthly, trees combat noise pollution and light pollution. As well as combating air pollution through the removal of the carbon in the atmosphere, trees have a role in combating the negative impact of noise pollution, which is a major effect of urbanization, modern transportation and industrialization.
This is the same with city lights. The trees shield us from them. The foliage of trees has a muffling effect, thereby diminishing the level of sound that reaches it.
On a lighter note, if we continue cutting down Abuja trees, soon we shall be hearing the noise from the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly when the lawmakers are making their usual noise.
Sixthly, trees fight climate change. The major factor causing global warming and climate change is the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, known for its heat-trapping properties. In our rapidly warming Earth, which people in Abuja witness firsthand, the excessive levels of carbon dioxide that humans are producing is literally trapping the heat in our atmosphere.
But, as a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air through a process called photosynthesis. It stores the carbon as wood and releases oxygen molecules.
For this reason, forests act as giant filter – they remove the greenhouse gas from the air and only disperse it back into the air if they are burned, or decomposed back into the earth.
Cut down trees in Abuja and pay a fine of N100,000, this is a good development. What do you think?