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Conservationists canvass policy implementation for wetlands


A wetland

With over 64per cent of Wetlands loss due to human activities, environmentalists have asked government to strengthen enforcement of policy actions designed to protect wetlands and other bio-diversities. They also stressed the need to include wetland conservation on climate change policy of the country.

The stakeholders who gathered in Lagos to mark the 2019 world wetland day, said wetlands are facing challenges such as industrial pollution, excessive reclamation of land, urbanization and the need to provide food for the population, dredging and artisanal sand mining, among others.

Leading the call at a programe organised by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, technical director of the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, Dr. Joseph Onoja expressed worries at the alarming rate in which wetland vegetation is cleared for fuel wood, building construction and other infrastructural development without recourse to the negative impact on the environment. According to him, the challenge in Nigeria is not the absence of policies but the failure of enforcing agencies to implement them.

Onoja said to prevent total extinction of Nigeria’s wetland, policy tailored toward proper urban planning, deliberate efforts at wetland restoration and preservation, planned creation of artificial wetlands where they did not exist before and focus on future/sustainable benefits derivable from wetland management must be encouraged.

“New development must be eco-friendly, research should be done on modernizing buildings using steels without destroying the wetland. Agriculture is the driver of what the wetland is turning into. Wetlands supposed to serve as panacea to climate change, help to check vulnerability to flooding, provide home for plants and animals and assist in having a balance cycle”.

Contributing, a senior lecturer at the Lagos State University, Centre for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development, Dr. Michael Ahove explained that wetland in Lagos has degenerated over the past fifty years blaming the situation on absence of the political will on the part of government to preserve the ecosystem.

“Our leaders should ensue that they carry the stakeholders along and the stakeholders should also work together with government as a team. If people desire to have houses along the coastal areas, they should build the houses in a sustainable manner. You can have a well-raised building on a wetland for it to be preserved.” “Wetlands conserve a lot of carbon dioxide, conserve trees and scientists have conformed that the amount of carbon dioxide conserved globally in wetlands doubles the ones we have in the forest. If we continue to destroy wetlands, we might destroy the cure for cancer, that we have not found”.

The General Manager of LASEPA, Mr. Antonio Ayodele said efforts are required to give the natural ecosystem its due consideration when taking economic decision that would impact on it.“Wetland are natural safe guard against disasters and helps the environment to cope with extreme weather event. Well managed wetlands ensure that communities are resilient and can bounce back from disasters”, he stated.

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Joseph Onoja
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