“When you plant trees you plant a life, because trees are living things,” president of Beach Samaritans, Adesola Alamutu, told a gathering of volunteers on a Saturday morning in late July. The volunteers, numbering about 80, were at the Kids Beach Garden in the Lekki area of Lagos to cleanup the beach and then plant trees.
The day’s activity was sponsored by the UPS Foundation, with UPS staffers making up the majority of the volunteers. “It’s not only good to be part of this sustainable programme for everybody to be educated about the importance of trees and how to plant them,” says UPS Managing Director for West Africa, Mark Martyn-Fisher. “It is also good because everybody from the company is here, no matter what job they do, what role they have or what function they are in, everybody is together and they are doing something physical.”
Alamutu added that she has planted almost 50 trees across the state in the last few years and thereafter encouraged her listeners to make it a habit to plant a tree on special occasions like birthdays, naming ceremonies and wedding anniversaries.
Doyinsola Ogunye, founder of the Kids Beach Garden and initiator of the Beach Restoration Project, chipped in with a recent personal effort at tree planting.
“My father passed a few weeks ago and I planted a tree in his honour,” she said, pointing to the tree in the near distance, a few feet behind the volunteers who had then formed a circle around her. “So as many times as we can do it, let us endeavour to do so. On the shoreline of Lagos State, we have lost so many trees. Lagos is surrounded by water, and as long as the sea level rises and we don’t do anything about it, before you know it it’s going to get into our houses.
“But then, planting trees is not enough — we also have to make plans to sustain them. What do the trees drink or eat, and by that I mean the manure and so on? On our part, we have been very creative about it, making use of materials we can find around us, including discarded tyres which help to protect the trees when it rains.”
Done with her talk, Ogunye then posed the big question: who among the volunteers had never plant trees before? Many hands went up.
Only two weeks earlier, on 14 July, the Lagos State government marked its annual tree planting exercise. There were commemorative ceremonies in eight different locations with senior government officials leading the charge to plant 100,000 statewide.
Hoping to get more Lagosians into the tree-planting mindset, the state used the opportunity to launch the “one house, one tree” campaign.
“We cannot keep on ignoring climate change which is the most significant material risk to our future. It is also the world’s most devastating threat to human survival,” the governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on the occasion. “As we increase efforts to rid the state of waste, all hands must be on deck to improve the environment by adorning it with flowers, shrubs, plants and trees.”
The state says it plans to plant 10 million trees by 2020.
“So everyone who can should plant a minimum of one tree,” Alamutu said, before the volunteers were divided into groups. “And when you cut a tree, plant two in its place.”
The day’s cleanup done, Ogunye led the volunteers to the sites selected for the coconut seedlings to be planted, giving a step-by-step demonstration of the process of getting them into the ground and applying the right quantity of soil and water.
“We are happy to partner with Beach Samaritans on this tree planting project,” says Jumoke Oyebanji, who is in charge of UPS’s CSR projects. “It’s good to be part of a community of people protecting the environment. The environment has given to us for a long time; it is now our turn to give back to the environment.”