Stakeholders seek mangrove restoration, wetland conservation
Stakeholders have identified lack of policy development and political will for the non- improvement of wetlands and mangrove conservation at the state and national levels.
In a communique issued at the end of a two-day National Climate Resilience Session on Mangrove Restoration and Wetland Conservation organised by Oxfam in Port Harcourt, River State, they identified practices that are destructive to the wetland, such as bush burning, burning of tyres for abattoir use, pollution from illegal refining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities by oil firms.
They also listed exploitation of wildlife, with regards to illegal hunting and poaching, encroachment on wetland as a result of poor urban planning, poverty and lack of alternative livelihood, as challenges facing mangrove and wetlands conservation.
The communique signed by Mr. Labaran Ahmed, Head, RAMSAR National Focal Point for Nigeria, urged state governments to create a unit, department or agency to address mangrove and wetland conservation.
The stakeholders were drawn from federal and state ministries of environment, agencies and civil society groups from Imo, Oyo, Bayelsa and Rivers States.
Ahmed urged the stakeholders, especially civil society groups to work with various state houses of Assembly and Ministries of Justice in the development of legislation concerning wetland conservation.
He charged the Federal Ministry of Environment to validate the Nigeria Wetlands Policy and collaborate with state governments and communities, to update existing RAMSAR sites of international importance in Nigeria.
They recommended “inventorisation and mapping of the wetland areas in the states and development of specific management plans for conservation and building capacity on wetland conservation across all levels.
They also sought the engagement of local communities, academia, civil society and other relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the development of a wetland conservation policy.
They also agreed on the sensitisation and awareness campaign on wetland conservation and management in collaboration with civil societies, academia, and relevant MDAs.
“Make representations to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Environment to designate prospective wetlands as RAMSAR sites in accordance with the recommendation of UNEP.
“Work internally on a preliminary assessment of challenges, limitations and targets with regards the current status of the state on wetland conservation with a view to ensuring budget needs are captured in the upcoming budget.”
On her part, the Advocacy Project Coordinator at Oxfam in Nigeria, Ms Saratu Abiola, said the meeting facilitated lesson learning across the different states, with the intention of fostering federal-state alignment in policy development and implementation for climate resilience through wetland conservation.
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