Solutions in nature: promoting the efficacy of indigenous medicinal plants

25 May 2020

Over the centuries, earth’s biological diversity has played a crucial role in the development and sustenance of our civilization. From energy to food and infrastructure to medicine, humans have relied on nature for existence. Sadly though, we have lost so much of our biodiversity through unsustainable human activities, leading to severe consequences, including challenges of food insecurity, desertification, biodiversity erosion, and climate change.

Solutions in nature: promoting the efficacy of indigenous medicinal plants
IITA forest and lake

The United Nations proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), an annual observance to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. This year, the theme of the celebration is “Our solutions are in Nature”, signaling an admission of human dependence on nature and the need to pursue conservation, even as we continue to utilize the benefits found in the natural world.

According to the Convention of Biological Diversity, this year’s theme “emphasizes the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature. 2020 is a year of reflection, opportunity and solutions.” The IDB is a call to the global community to r-examine our relationships with nature as humans are still wholly dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for sustenance.

This year, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) joins the global celebration by hosting a semi-virtual event to highlight some of the natural solutions found in our ecosystems. While the hosting team will be on the ground at the IITA Forest Center’s Ethnobotanical Garden, audience participation will be primarily online due to the restrictions imposed by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

As global biodiversity loss continues due to human activities, IITA has maintained a deep connection with nature through the conservation efforts of the Forest Center. The Institute has one of the last remaining forest covers in Nigeria, and this Forest Reserve has been designated as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) by BirdLife International as it supports 67 Guineo-Congolian bird species. A host of other fauna are found in the Forest Reserve, including wild and cultivated plant species.

This online event aims to highlight the importance of the work that IITA is doing in helping to conserve biodiversity in Nigeria. This relationship with the natural ecosystem will be on full display during this event. The event will underscore some of the benefits derivable from nature with a particular focus on indigenous medicinal plants. Another focal point will be a tour of the medicinal plant garden.

The conservation of biological diversity is a common concern of humankind and according to the Forest Center Project Officer, Adewale Awoyemi, “We all have individual roles to play, and now is the best time to act. Locally, we could promote biodiversity conservation in our gardens through the growing of medicinal plants, vegetables, and fruit trees, and increased awareness creation among families, friends, and colleagues.”

About IITA

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is a not-for-profit institution that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation. Working with various partners across sub-Saharan Africa, we improve livelihoods, enhance food and nutrition security, increase employment, and preserve natural resource integrity. IITA is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.

About IITA Forest Center

The IITA Forest Center manages and utilizes forest resources for conservation, research, education, and livelihoods. With support from IITA and donors, the center developed a Botanical Nursery & Garden which produces trees for reforestation and landscaping, traditional Yoruba medicinal herbs and vegetables, and ornamental plants for the home, office, and garden. The Forest Center continues the development of a Tree Heritage Park to protect threatened and rare Nigerian trees and a Forest School with information center, trails, camp site, barbeque and picnic facilities, canopy observation tower, and outdoor play areas.

Media contact: Katherine Lopez, Head of Communication, k.lopez@cgiar.org