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For World Environment Day, Christians in Nigeria planted 1,000 tree seedlings in the rural community of Saya, in Plateau State, Nigeria. They distributed an additional 1,000 seedlings to churches and schools for families to take home and plant.

“The importance of tree planting in Nigeria can never be overemphasized,” Danladi Musa, director of Tearfund Nigeria, a Christian international relief-and-development agency, said on World Environment Day. “We need them for our survival.”

CRWRC-Nigeria’s John Orkar plants a tree.

 Over time, Nigeria has lost nearly 60 percent of its primary forests—more than any other country—to logging, subsistence agriculture, charcoal production, and the collection of firewood. This environmental degradation has had harsh consequences. 

“When trees are cut, top soil is lost and crops can’t grow as well. When mass deforestation happens, rains don’t come and crops can’t grow,” said Andrew Gwavamingh, executive director of one of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s partners in Nigeria.

World Environment Day was sponsored by Micah Challenge, a global coalition of Christians committed to cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. One of its goals is to “ensure environmental sustainability.”

As an active member of Micah Challenge, the CRWRC engaged churches, Christian leaders, and schools to take action on World Environment Day.  

 “If CRWRC wants to help people address poverty and injustice, and if we believe that community transformation lies at the heart of this ministry, we must also include caring for the physical environment of which that community is a part,” said Ida Kaastra Mutoigo, CRWRC’s director in Canada. 

For World Environment Day, CRWRC-Nigeria worked aggressively with Micah Challenge to organize a poster art competition and a trash art competition for students. A coloring book with basic environmental concepts was produced and distributed in schools. Jingles encouraging tree planting played on the radio. CRWRC staff spoke on one radio and two television programs.

Events culminated with the tree planting, which may have seemed small, but “when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference,” said a Nigerian geology professor, quoting U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

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