The trees were donated to the school on the 17th during the commemoration of the 2022 World Environment Day celebration by ECCAI in collaboration with USSM.

The program was witnessed and addressed by the Executive Director ECCAI, Mrs. Victoria Esa, Manager of programs ECCAI Mr. Romeo Obarike Aje, Principal of USSM, Mr. Ortserga Samuel, Proprietress USSM Mrs. Juliana Atume, and Mr. Philip Iorkase Hon, HOD Social Sciences also of USSM.

Mrs. Esa said World Environment Day is celebrated on the 5th of June yearly globally since it was first designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1973 to create awareness of challenges faced by the environment due to climate change, pollution, deforestation, and other environmental challenges.

She added that the Theme for 2022 – *ONLY ONE EARTH* – Focuses on living sustainably in harmony with nature was apt at this time when the planet is facing crises of global warming, biodiversity loss, pollution, etc, due to unsustainable management of our natural resources by man.

The Executive Director reiterated that in Nigeria, particularly Benue state North Central Nigeria, so many of our plants and animal species have gone into extinction like Iroko (Milicia Africana), Mansonia, Obeche (Triplochyton scleroxylon) etc, while many more are at the verge of extinction, examples are Ironwood ( Prosopis Africana) popularly known as ‘Okpehe’ or ‘Gbaaye’ and also the Locust bean tree ( Parkia biglobosa).

These 2 trees produce the best seasoning in the world and are very rich in protein.

Sadly there’s wanton felling of Okpehe trees without replacement, mostly by wood turners for mortar, pestle, and other carving works, while the Locust bean tree is used for charcoal production and firing materials in local bricks production.

She also added that many concerned Environmentalists in the state are at the forefront of the campaign for the protection and conservation of Okpehe and Nune and also other endangered trees like Mahogany (Khaya species), Agba ( Danielia Oliveri), Akparata (Afzelia Africana), etc, which she urged the students to join in the campaign and follow it with action by massive planting of trees bearing in mind that we have ‘Only One Earth’ and we should protect it.

She concluded by encouraging everyone to plant trees to mark anniversaries like birthdays, graduations, weddings, and even burial dates of relatives.

The 52 tree seedlings donated to the school comprised the following:

* Parkia biglobosa ( locust bean) – 10

* Khaya senegalensis ( Mahogany) – 10

* Tenera oil palm (E. guinensis) – 21

* Darcrodus edulis ( local pears) – 2

* Budded Oranges – 3

* Tectona grandis (Teak) – 2

* Delonix regia (Pride of Barbados) – 2

* Other ornamentals – 2

*TOTAL* = 52

In her closing remarks, Mrs. Juliana Atume, Proprietress of Unique Secondary School Makurdi thanked the ECCAI team for always supporting her school with trees and also sensitizing the students on climate change mitigation and adaptation as far back as 2013 till date.

Highlights of the event were chanting of the TREE PRAYER, Plant A Tree song, and the TREE PLANTING exercise by ED ECCAI, Proprietress, principal, staff, and students of USSM, and guest CSO.