By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Nigerians have been advised to cherish and preserve forests and wildlife, owing to their enormous benefits and importance to mankind.
The Head of Department, Forestry and Wildlife, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Dr. E. A. Egwuatum made the call in a Keynote lecture delivered during the the Department’s 1st Forestry and Wildlife Symposium, which held in Awka, Anambra State capital, on Tuesday.
Themed “Building a Successful Forestry Career”, the event, which also marked the 2023 International Day of Forests, was organised by the Forestry and Wildlife Students Association (FOWSA, UNIZIK) in collaboration with the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA, Germany), and also featured book presentation, induction of the new students of the Department, as well as the fifth IFSA-FOWSA UNIZIK Awards.
In his Keynote Address, Dr. Egwuatum, who said that forest supplies food, fodder and fuel to mankind through its renewable resources, also hinted that there is no waste in the forest, as every single thing inside the forest is essential to mankind. Recalling the popular ‘Forest for Debt Exchange’ era, he noted that forest is key to mitigating the climate change, and therefore called on the people to always cherish and preserve the forest and wildlife to continue to serve its purpose to humanity.
Also speaking, the Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Prof. Nkiru Meludu; the Father of the Day, Prof. Prof. Caleb Ezeano; and the Anambra State Commissioner for Environment, Engr. Felix Odimegwu, enumerated the importance of forest to humanity, as well as the numerous lucrative opportunities that abound in the Forestry career; even as they urged the students never to regret studying Forestry, but to be more devout, and put everything they were taught into practice, towards building a successful Forestry career and becoming proud foresters in the nearest future.
Earlier in his opening remarks at the event, the first Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Peter C. Nnabude, who spoke on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Esimone, described Anambra State as the erosion capital of Nigeria, which, he said is partly as a result of destruction done to forests by the people. He highlighted the various efforts so far made by the University Management to preserve the forests and other natural resources in the school environment. He also urged the students and Management of the Department to ensure the event becomes impactful, by working out an action plan that would help to drive the cause of forest and wildlife preservation in the school environment and beyond.
In an interview with newsmen, the Head of Academic Planning, Prof. Ike Odimegwu who is the first and only person to have raised a plantation with over one thousand trees in the University environment, said he did so because of his love for nature, and out of his understanding of the importance of forests to humans and the society.
Earlier in his Address of Welcome, the President of FOWSA UNIZIK, Comr. Onwuzuka Emmanuel, revealed that the Department won a grant of £350, out of 30 universities in Africa, to host the event, which, he said, was aimed at exposing the students to several career lines in Forestry and Wildlife.
Anchored by Mr. Onyekachi Chukwu, the event featured the launching of the book “Building a Successful Forestry Career in Africa” published by the Joint IUFRO-IFSA Task Force on Forest Education under the Young African Forestry Professionals (YAFP) Publication project, with financial support from International Union of Forest Organisations (IUFRO) and Forestry Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI). The book contains Mr. Chukwu’s story, being one of the few Nigerians whose works were selected for publication.
Among other highlights, the event also featured special presentation by students of Igwebuike Grammar School and UNIZIK High School; as well as presentation of awards to some deserving individuals who have made indelible contributions towards the growth Forestry and Wildlife, both in the school and beyond, including Mrs. Ify Unachukwu of the Anambra Broadcasting Service, who was awarded the Ambassador, Forest Information System; among other awardees.