School children between 3 and 12 years from the Ibadan International School (IIS) have raised about N350,000 (or $2,000) to support the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)'s Forest Project. The donation is part of the school's efforts towards supporting good causes in the society.
"This donation is to support the Forest Project for the positive impact on the lives of the children," said Mrs. Helen Chatburn - Ojehomon, the Primary Years Programme Coordinator at IIS.
The IITA Forest Project has over the years provided children and teachers with the opportunity to learn about forest conservation, biodiversity, and the negative effects of deforestation.
Located on about 350 hectares in Ibadan, the IITA Forest Reserve is one of the few surviving and best protected secondary forests in western Nigeria with more than 230 different types of butterflies. It also plays host to 250 different species of birds, and over 450 plant species, most of which have medicinal uses.
Chatburn - Ojehomon explained that funds for the donation were raised by the children through the MathBuster Challenge - a sponsored educational programme that encourages learning and enjoyment of mathematics. Funds raised from the sponsorship go into charity, and sponsors could be friends, parents, and relatives.
This year is the ninth in the series of the MathBuster Challenge, and the programme has supported different projects in the past. The Forest Project of IITA was chosen in 2012 because the students had learnt about environmental degradation and deforestation during their numerous visits to IITA forest; as such the issues brought inspiration and interest in the project to them.
"The children feel this project should continue. And basically, we want to link their learning with action so that they can use their learning to help the community," Chatburn - Ojehomon said.
Coordinator of IITA Forest Project, Mrs. Deni Bown, commended the children and the school for the gesture, stressing that the conservation of Nigeria's forest is vital to the survival of the country's people.
Underscoring the importance of forests to human existence, Bown likened the forest to the human skin."The forest is like the protective 'skin' of the planet earth. If you remove it, the earth gets hotter. And if we lose our forest to a certain level, we will have irreversible global warming" the forest expert said.
Bown noted that the Institute's Forest Project was a clear demonstration of the link between forests and agriculture - that they could go hand-in-hand.
She also explained that the Forest Project has over the years organised educational and guided tours to the forest for children because of the belief that they are future leaders and would make good use of the knowledge.