State plans review of policy on wetlands management, biodiversity conservation

By Onyebuchi Sampson

To ensure better preservation of its biodiversity, Lagos State Government is planning to review its draft policy on wetlands management and conservation.

The state has also vowed to stop all forms of encroachments and misuse of wetlands in the state.

Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello, disclosed this during an advocacy programme on Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation for Lagos Central Senatorial District held at Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA). The Trumpet gathered.

He added that the State Government has commenced identification of all Wetlands within the five divisions in Lagos State.

According to him government is planning to review the draft policy on wetlands management and conservation of its Biodiversity (2016) with a view to restore, protect and conserve degraded wetlands in Lagos State for better use.

According to him, the advocacy programme, themed: “We’re Part of the Solution # For Nature”, is part of efforts toward creating awareness on the importance of preserving wetlands and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Bello, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Mobolaji Gaji, explained that the afore mentioned is achievable by addressing the growing challenges in preventing wetlands encroachment in the state, restoring degraded wetlands, protecting identified wetlands and restriction of human activities on wetlands areas.

He added that it is the responsibility of everybody in the State to ensure proper soil management and fight biodiversity loss adding that Government, Organizations, Communities and Individuals around the world must be encouraged to commit to proactively improving Wetland Management.

According to him, ”there is no better time than now for us as a State Government that is very concerned about the state of our wetlands to scale-up the level of awareness as it affects residents in the Lagos Central Senatorial District and enlighten you on the importance of Wetlands Conservation”.

“Recall that the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 to 2030 stated the fundamental and urgent need for the restoration of ecosystem to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by ‘Preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide through Advocacy/Sensitization Programme,” he said.

He said that climate change is of great concern and matter of global importance caused by Biodiversity loss and wildlife habitat destruction as a result of the growing demands of Industrialization, Housing needs as well as Urbanization in the Society today.

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“In order to maintain the effective functionality of the wetlands ecosystem, it is important that action be taken now to protect it from the urban encroachment that is beginning to make its mark,” he said.

He explained that Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people, fish and wildlife adding that some of these services and functions include protecting and improving water quality, providing food, habitat for fish and wildlife, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.

Bello revealed that holding capacity of Wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops, preserve and restoring wetlands together with other water retention

The Commissioner said the benefits of proper Wetlands Management abound, hence it is imperative for the State Government to act now to mitigate against adverse effects of wrong management of this ecosystem.

“Government is committed to protecting and improving the wetlands flora and fauna, its biodiversity, conservation and management through efficient ecosystem functions not because it is a habitat to a wide range of species of plants and water animals, but to sustain the livelihood of millions of people that depend on these regions for their survival” he said.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Mobolaji Gaji, reiterated government’s commitment towards ensuring a safe, resilient, and sustainable Lagos through the conservation, protection and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic natural resources for the wellbeing of the citizen in urban and rural areas of the State.

Represented by director, Conservation and Ecology, Mr. Sheriff Savage, he advised residents to desist from dumping refuse or using waste to reclaim wetlands but rather devise better ways to use wetland economically.

He noted that wetlands are land areas saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that they take on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.

He said the State is bringing this awareness campaign to the people in order to further educate and make them participate in their development as well as ensure their commitment to a sustainable environment.

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