Gov. Ben Ayade

Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has declared July 30th every year, starting from 2019, as a public holiday for the planting of one million trees in a ceremony known as the Green Carnival.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Christian Ita on Wednesday in Calabar, quoted the governor as explaining that setting aside a day for tree planting “underscores our readiness for the REDD+ and commitment to forest conservation and management.”

REDD+ is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, plus the sustainable management of forests, and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

It is also an essential part of the global efforts to mitigate climate change, while FAO is supporting developing countries in their REDD+ processes and in turning their political commitments, as represented in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDD), into action on the ground.

The governor, who disclosed that one million trees would be planted during this year’s Green Carnival, said the exercise was also aimed at addressing the challenge of urban deforestation.

He said the event which is to take place simultaneously across the 18 local government areas of the state “is one of the measures to tackle global warming, deforestation and climate change”.

He expressed the optimism that the state’s forest cover, which represents 58 percent of Nigeria’s forest cover, would, through the Green Carnival, grow to 68 percent.

The governor said that the event would also drive home the state’s commitment towards the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the 275km Superhighway project in the state.

Ayade expressed optimism that the state’s forest cover, which represents 58 percent of Nigeria’s forest cover, will through the Green Carnival, grow to 68 percent.

He pledged that the Urban Green Canopy Calabar initiative would sustain Calabar as the greenest city in Nigeria and Cross River as the greenest state.

“Consequently, all schools, homes, ministries, government agencies and departments, banks, hospitals and all business premises must plant new trees.

“Subsequently it will be an offence not to plant a tree on that day,” he added.

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