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Some experts in the North-Central have decried indiscriminate bush burning in the country, saying the practice is affecting the environment negatively.
The experts, who spoke with the correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Plateau, Benue, Kogi, and Taraba, also warned that the act was harmful to human health.
One of them, a lecturer at the Federal College of Forestry, Jos, Mr Andrew Umaru, said indiscriminate burning of bushes contributed 30 per cent of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Umaru said the harmful practice, which was usually done by farmers to clear their farmlands and hunters to smoke out animals, had negative effects on the environment.
He said that bush burning warmed the planet and contributed to soots in the atmosphere which had adverse effects on human health.
“Bush burning contributes to 30 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere; it is a harmful practice often done by farmers and hunters.
“Burning bushes warms the planet and also contributes to soots which pollutes the air and in turn causes adverse health effects.
“Greenhouse gases when injected into the ozone layer, weaken the blanket effect of the ozone layer and make radiation come directly into the atmosphere,’’ he said.
The expert also said that bush burning in general destroyed life affected health, destroyed animal habitat, insect community, grazing pastures, and watershed.
He said the practice destroyed the soil by killing its organisms and other microorganisms that made up a fertile soil.
Umaru said bush burning also exposed the soil to erosion and affected agriculture in general.
He commended the efforts of the Plateau Government to stop bush burning through sensitization with radio jingles and visits to the 17 local government areas of the state.
He advised the State House of Assembly to enact laws that would criminalize bush burning in the area.
The lecturer said sensitizing the people to the effects of bush burning, formulating laws and enforcing the same was the only way to achieve everything that had to do with the green revolution.
On his part, Dr Istifanus Bako of the Department of Family Medicine, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), said bush burning had various effects on the health of humans.
Bako said that the major target of air pollutants was the respiratory system.
He said entrained pollutants entered the body through the throat and nasal cavities passed to the lung through the trachea, and that in the process, the respiratory system could be damaged by both particulate and gaseous pollutants.
He said that Chronic Bronchitis, which was a disorder characterized by excessive mucus secretion in the bronchial tubes also resulted.
Bako said that emphysema, which was the breakdown and destruction of the alveolar walls in the lungs would
He, therefore, advised that people should shun bush burning to avert the dangerous effects it had on health.
Similarly, the Benue State Desk Officer, Climate Change, Ms Mary Ugboho, also warned that bush burning damaged soil nutrients thereby limiting food production.
“Overall, it affects the economy of the state as well; the soil diminishes in fertility thereby forcing farmers to have a low yield,” Ugboho said.
According to her, bush burning affects the ecosystem and destroys the capacity of the soil to absorb water.
“It affects agriculture and you know that agriculture is the economy of Benue,” she said.
The desk officer also said that bush burning was responsible for land leaching that was responsible for soil erosion.
According to her, the carbons that are released into the atmosphere owing to the activities of bush burning account sizeably to global warming.
She said the state had existing laws and policies against bush burning.
Similarly, Dr Nuhu Solomon Anyegwu, the Provost, College of Health Sciences and Technology, Idah, Kogi, said bush burning remained part of the anthropogenic activities that were quite inimical to environmental sustainability.
According to him, the practice is highly destructive as it destroys the flora and fauna in the environment, thus leading to the loss of biodiversity
Anyegwu, who doubles as the Deputy National President, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), said bush burning could be controlled by the enactment of laws against indiscriminate bush burning.
He said local authorities should use volunteers to enforce the laws, and also carry out intensive public enlightenment against bush burning with emphasis on dangers associated with it.
Mrs Dorcas Enehe, the Director of Climate Change, Kogi Ministry of Environment said bush burning was an act that remained dangerous and harmful to the environment.
Enehe described bush burning in Kogi as alarming because people were setting a bush on fire indiscriminately, saying one of the forest reserves in the state was recently destroyed through bush burning.
She explained that the burning of bush would disrupt the ecosystem, both the fauna and flora which could force all the animals in the area to relocate to other places.
”Bush burning makes some species of animal and plants to go into extinction. It also destroys the microorganisms in the soil which have been nourishing the soil for the effective growth of the plant in the forest.
”Bush burning also exposes the soil nutrients and microorganisms to dangerous ultraviolet rays from the sun harmful to plants and animals.
”It also weakens the soil surface which can cause erosion and leaching which is the downward movement of soil nutrients,” he said
The director also said that bush burning could affect climate change in the sense that when it emitted carbon into the atmosphere, it could damage the ozone layer, resulting in adverse climate change.
”People have succeeded in inflicting harm to our forests. When bush burning happens such offenders should be severely punished so that the people would desist from such acts.
She said that the ministry had forest guards but that they were not effective, stressing the need for the forest guards to be proactive in guarding the state forests.
Mrs Ajayi Osho, the Director Extension and Training, Forestry, Kogi Ministry of Environment, lamented that one of the state’s forest reserves at Ofejiji community in Dekina Local Government Area was burnt down recently, saying the incident had affected the biodiversity negatively.
”Kogi now has laws to punish the offenders for bush burning and other offences against the forest. The law has just been signed into law by the governor, but we are still expecting our copy in the ministry.’’
In Jalingo, an Environmentalist, Dr Edward Kaashie, said indiscriminate bush burning destroyed soil organisms, soil texture, and fertility.
According to Kaashie, continuous bush burning also destroys the vegetation cover leading to soil erosion.
The practice, he warned, also caused air pollution and destroyed insects and animal habitats, “and sometimes, even people’s residents, farms and businesses.’’
Alhaji Ahmed Haruna of the Taraba Ministry of Environment said the state had adopted the Forestry Law of 1963 and amended it as ‘Taraba State Forestry Law (Amendment) Edict 1997’, which was later amended to ‘Taraba State Forestry Law (Amendment) 2010.
Haruna said that the purpose of the edict was to amend the Forest Law (Cap 44 Laws of Northern Nigeria 1963) to make provisions vesting the control, preservation, and management of forest resources solely in the state government.
He said the forestry law prohibited indiscriminate bush burning where offenders risked jail terms of between three to seven years.(NAN)