… Holds Second Awareness Campaign at Lagos East Senatorial District
The Lagos State Government, on Wednesday, reiterated its commitment to step up advocacy and awareness campaigns against wetlands encroachment to educate residents on its importance to the ecology and economy of the State.
Speaking at the Second Awareness Campaign on Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation for Lagos East Senatorial District at the Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka, the Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Tunji Bello said such awareness is required in order to foster community participation in wetlands management.
He said the Government is committed to protecting the wetlands flora and fauna, its biodiversity, conservation and management, through efficient ecosystem functions, not only because it is habitat to a wide range of species of plants and water animals but also to sustain the livelihood of millions of people that depend on these regions for their survival.
The Commissioner, who spoke through the Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, Engr. Joe Igbokwe, stressed that there is no better time than now for the Government to scale up the level of awareness amongst the residents of the East Senatorial District, and Lagosians as a whole, on the importance of wetlands conservation to the community.
He said the theme for the programme, ‘We Are Part of the Solution for Nature Biodiversity’, was aimed at raising awareness on the importance of maintaining a healthy ecosystem and the well-being of the citizens by addressing the growing challenges in preventing wetlands encroachment in Lagos.
The Commissioner explained that advocacy programmes on Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation are of global importance due to climate change, other adverse effects of biodiversity loss and habitat destruction caused by the growing demands of industrialisation, housing needs and urbanisation of the society.
According to him, the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 – 2030) maintained that there is an urgent need for the restoration of the ecosystem to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by “preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide”.
Bello emphasised that the holding capacity of Wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops, adding that preserving and restoring wetlands together with other water retention processes can often provide the level of flood control otherwise provided by expensive dredging operations and levies.
While noting that it is imperative to act now to mitigate against adverse effects of wrong management of the ecosystem, he revealed that the Government has commenced activities to prevent further wetlands encroachment and to preserve the biodiversity across the state.
He said: “Some of these activities include identification of all Wetland areas in Lagos State; erecting signposts in all identified wetlands within the five divisions in Lagos State; effective monitoring exercise on all wetlands in the State to prevent further encroachment and developing both Yafin and Itoikin wetlands into a potential tourism resource centre”.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary Office of Environmental Services, Mrs. Belinda Odeneye, noted that this is the second in the series of the awareness campaign planned for this year, which is an extension of the International Day Celebration to educate the people on the importance of wetlands.
She explained that wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services”, which they provide for humanity such as fresh-water supply, food and building materials, biodiversity, flood control, groundwater recharge and climate change mitigation.
The Permanent Secretary said that the government is bringing the awareness campaign to residents and communities in order to further educate and encourage them to participate in development and ensure their commitment to a sustainable environment.
Odeneye, therefore, urged everyone to contribute to securing a healthy, flood-free and prosperous future for the unborn generation, just as she noted that it is time to take ownership of maintaining and restoring the wetland ecosystem.
The Guest Lecturer and Dean of Post Graduate School, University of Lagos, Prof. Alabi Soneye, said Lagos is facing unprecedented pressure on wetlands as a result of limited land space for housing development, excessive dredging and other anthropogenic activities, stressing that these activities have led to the rapid decline in numbers and sizes of the wetlands across the State.
He enjoined everyone to improve on the poor urban planning and weak development control; non-adherence to land use and zoning plans; poor sanitation and waste management.