By Deng Eric
In Government Primary School Mfandena, Yaounde-Cameroon, Farel Jean Mundia, a class six pupil plants a tree as the Ministers of Forestry and Basic Education among other dignitaries look on. “We have been told to plant and protect trees because they beautify our environment and give us life. From today I will protect trees and also encourage my friends in school and back at home not to destroy them” Farel says.
It is on the occasion of World Tree/Forest day observed every year on March 21. The country’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife says “For this celebration, we thought that for us to spread the message to make it touch our young people, the Cameroon of tomorrow so as to enable them to know the importance of the tree; we of forestry and basic education should carry out this celebration in a school environment like this one”.
He goes further to say “the tree is of vital importance to us because besides providing the oxygen we breathe, it provides water, it is a shelter for birds and animals. With wood coming from trees, we build houses, the government sells trees abroad with which revenue generated is used to construct schools, hospitals, and roads. We have to make sure that we take care of our trees by fighting illegal forest exploitation because it violates our laws and projects for sustainable management of forest resources” Ndongo says.
He continues —“if every year, just two trees are planted in all primary schools of the 360 subdivisions, it is already a great step for a sustainable future since the tree is life.
Etoundi Ngoa, Cameroon’s Minister of Basic Education underscored the need for tree planting and forest protection to be given a special place in primary education across the country. He stated that “tree is life”, saying a tree does not only contribute to soil fertilization but also helps in the fight against climate change as it regulates the amount of air present in the atmosphere. “We need to plant more trees than we cut and this message has to be taught at this elementary level for these young ones to know that tampering with trees is putting the future at risk”. He challenged teachers to intensify environmental education and especially the importance of planting trees in their lessons.
Instituted by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization since 1970 and observed yearly on the 21st of March, Forestry and Wildlife Minister said the day is a rare occasion to educate and sensitize the population on the role of trees in environmental education, forest ecosystem in biosphere balance and its importance in socio-economic development.
Cameroon is said to have a forest cover globally estimated at some 22.5million hectares representing 46% of the national territory. Forestry Minister said forest landscape degradation has remained relatively stable while the rate of deforestation of Cameroon forest has dropped from 0.8% between 1990 and 2000 to 0.3% between 2000 and 2005 according to a study of MINFOF/CIFOR which equally indicates that Cameroon lost 466 325.82hectares of forest in 2008.
He went on to state that besides initiatives taken at the national level by government, Cameroon has taken international engagements to; reduce 32% of gas emissions and restore 12 062 768 of degraded forest land by 2030 within the framework of fighting climate change.