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However, the campaign, experts note, has degenerated into an annual fanfare without sustainable strategies to ensure that the campaign succeeds.

Dr Tony Nyong, an environmentalist with the International Development Research Centre, describes the tree planting campaign in Nigeria as ‘’a mere jamboree’’.

Nyong says that the present campaign needs to be overhauled and plants such as palm trees be included in the campaign in view of their economic potential.

On a debit side, however, a recent research by scientists at the Nairobi-based World Agro Forestry Centre, appears to question the benefits of the ‘plant a billion tree campaign’ as it claims that trees utilise more water than hitherto believed.

The research notes that trees such as Eucalyptus consume as much as 2,000 litres of water daily while Pinus Patula consumes between 500 and 1,000 litres daily.

Thus, the implication of planting trees such as Eucalyptus under the campaign is that watershed management will be under serious threat if one million of such species are included in the campaign, the research says.

Plantations of thirsty trees, according to the research, funded by the Swedish International Developmental Agency, will only be viable in high rainfall areas where ground water is more readily available.

One of the lead scientists in the research, Dr Chin Ong, says that the ‘plant one billion tree campaign’ must, therefore, target local species that will not pose any threat to the watershed.

He advises stakeholders to identify such local tree species that will not only conserve water for the needs of the rural populace, but also assist in scaling up their livelihood.

While environmentalists are not in a hurry to dismiss the findings of this research, they still insist that the world will be better off with more trees and challenge humanity to plant as many as possible.

Abutu writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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