Green Tour: What ‘green’ Thing to See in Abuja?

My likeness for green i.e. environment sustainability movement have me go on a number of ‘green’ tours. A green tour is going round to visit organizations, facilities, industries and sites that have incorporated some sort of environmental sustainability in their operations, business models or buildings. When I had a green tour in Berlin, we visited a water harvesting system that treats water in an innovative way, an organization that is using IT to improve transport sustainability, a water treatment plan, an environmental research organization etc.

Our choice of hotel and restaurant in Berlin was also mindful of who practices environmental sustainability. The restaurant we had lunch on the day of the tour was an organic one. The hotel we stayed have all sorts of awareness posters inviting people to conserve different resources.

But I live in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria where there isn’t much pronounced environmental sustainability movements. With a keen interest in sustainable cities, I tried to pin-point what could be great to see on a green tour in Abuja. The city, is thankful with many green areas that were fought so hard to preserve for their intended land use. There are beautiful tree canopies as you drive on the wide boulevards of many streets, especially in Wuse II and Maitama districts.

But I am looking at somewhere you can go to relax, and most importantly increase your knowledge (because that’s what a green tour is), I have selected some sites below to start with.

Sarius Palmetum

The name leaves you wondering what it is actually, and whether it is English Language or not. Palmetum means a collection of different types of palms. Mama, as they honourably call the owner gathers different types of plants and palms, both indigenous to Nigeria and those that aren’t. It is a park growing more than 400 different species of palms. I never knew there were such many of them in the world.

On a touring level, it is a park where you can go and relax or have your events like weddings and birthday parties. At the same time, it is a botanical garden displaying the different types of palms and plants.

The full name is actually Sarius Palmetum Botanical Garden but you will understand I refer to it as both a park and a garden. The owners have a plan of making it a holiday resort as well. So there you have 3 things all in one location.

Normal entrance to this park on Ibrahim Babangida Boulevard is charged at 1000 NGN per day. When we visited with Per, we had a guided tour of the park offered by a passionate landscape architect who takes care of the plants. Ever since this introduction to different types of palms, I have always watched out for palms with keen interest.

There is natural stream that flows all through this 21 hectare planned resort. The owners have decided to construct embankments around the river to conserve it. A small waterfall exists on your way in. Hills and small rock formations in also lie in the garden. The place is truly blessed with physical features with architectural aesthetics.

I did recommend it for a casual walk up and down in the park and for the team building events.

There are monkeys as well in the garden we learned, but they are rarely seen when people visit.

It is a new project, some of the palms are still growing.  The park is partly under construction but the tour guide cannot wait till then. It is still a great location to take refuge at. You forget you are in Abuja for a while.

Abuja Technology Village

Abuja Technology Village (ATV) as it is popularly abbreviated is a science and technology park (STP), under construction. Sitting on more than a 100 hectare plot of land, it is meant to be the go to destination for companies and organizations interested in innovation and sustainability in technology, energy, ICT  and the likes. There are a number of science parks in the world, with ATV being the first in Nigeria, under development.

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How cool will this place be? very …
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A natural river currently at the site. It will still remain there after constructing the ATV.

What is green about this village is that all buildings to be constructed must follow the green building standards and regulations set by the overseers. A huge book of all those standards is developed to help guide intending developers. General goals are set down and building plans and elevations have already been done. The first office building to be constructed will be a LEED certified building.

At the moment, there is not much to see on ground. Only a little part of it is under construction. What should be in your itinerary is not the actual ATV that is on your way to the airport, but its office located in Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) to see the scaled model of how the finished village will be when finished. The office is on Aguiyi Ironsi Street. There is no public announcement of a tour offered to visitors, but the organization mentioned on their website they would love to hear from you. And if you can establish some mutual interest with ATV and inform them of your intention, perhaps your tour of the model be arranged by the nice people I met there.

Millennium Park

This 32 hectare green park designed by Italian architect Manfredi Nicolleti is a place to be if you want to relax, alone or with a number of friends, and while watching others do the same too (like a day at the beach). Many people throng here during weekends to have picnics, parties or even attend a talk or meeting. It is the largest public park in Abuja. The serene and big environment makes it cool for everyone to have their own space. Small artificial fountains are built along where a river flows in the middle of the park. You can also see the Aso Rock when you are in the park.

Talking about going to parks, many people say Nigerians do not have a culture of going to relax in parks. It is more of a foreign/non-African culture I agree. But many of us do not visit them because of the conversions in their use. When you are supposed to find a space to meditate or with minimal noises, some people turn the parks into ‘mama put’ restaurants or a music club, blasting loud music to disturb everyone.

However, if we have the sort of Millennium Park in every district in Abuja, I think many of us will start frequenting them. Many cannot just drive all the way to Millennium Park, one of my friend says.

Entrance to this park in Maitama is free.

There are other places worth visiting and that could be included in your green tour, like the Children’s Park and Zoo, IBB Golf course, Lower Usuma Dam Water Treatment Plant (there is a solar farm just opposite it), etc. I couldn’t identify an organic restaurant.

I will keep updating this blog when I find something interestingly green.

Is there a place in Abuja that appeals to you in a green way that I haven’t mentioned? Please mention in the comment section below. If you want to get more blogs like this and be updated on the additions to this blog, please subscribe to my blog below.

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