KANO, 8 April 2008 (IRIN) - Of the 50 million seedlings planted every year in the 11 northern Nigeria states worst effected by desertification, 37.5 million wither and die within two months, environmental officials say.
"The 12.5 million seedlings that make it to maturity are not enough to create a deforestation-reforestation equilibrium, especially given the fact that a large number of the trees that grow are later chopped down," Kabiru Yammama of the National Forest Conservation Council of Nigeria [NFCCN] told IRIN.
People in the north use an estimates 40.5 million tonnes of firewood each year, he said. At the same time, the desert is encroaching at an estimated annual rate of between 8 and 30 hectares in the 11 states, which are Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi.
Around 35 percent of the arable land there has been overtaken by desert in the last 50 years, he added