As Nigeria contends with increased levels of Christian persecution, in the forms of killings, kidnappings, and destruction of church facilities, there is little the Church’s leaders can do as they work for government intervention and social reform. While there are many problems in the country that they cannot fix, however, they are now taking action on one issue they can help to correct: the environment.
According to the Guardian, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) is to plant 5.5 million trees over the next five years to mitigate the effects of climate change in the country. The cause, called the Green Revolution Campaign, is being championed by Caritas Nigeria, which hailed the bishops’ actions.
At the project’s launch, CBCN President Lucius Ugorji explained that the workload will be split among 50 dioceses of Nigeria, which will each plant 20,000 trees over the course of five years. It is estimated that 1.1 million trees will be planted annually through this division of labor.
The prelate went on to explain that the plans will work towards saving the environment and reducing the damage caused by climate change, which in Nigeria leads to excessive rainfall, rising sea levels, floods, severe droughts, and desert encroachment in 12 Northern states.
He also noted that Nigeria is in need of more efficient waste management services, citing rampant plastic pollution — although the trees are not expected to help in this regard. The trees will, however, help to combat greenhouse gasses, a leading cause of climate change. Ugorji noted that there is work to be done to improve water quality in the African nation as well.
Several other speakers took to the podium during the announcement. Executive Director of Caritas Nigeria Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina said that the intervention would be a boon to the ongoing farmer-herder crises, reducing environmental threats to both humans and animals. Meanwhile Director-General of the National Agency for Great Green Wall Dr. Yusuf Maina-Bukar said that the planting of 5.5 million trees could increase the quality of life for some 40 million Nigerians.
He called on all religious institutions to join the CBCN in their environmental work:
“We urge other religious institutions across the country to emulate the action, to ensure a conducive environment and proper inculcation of sustainable environmental management in Nigeria,”