Lagos State Government on Wednesday stressed its commitment to a scale-up of the level of education amongst the people on the importance of wetlands to humanity, saying now is the time
Speaking at a programme on Wetland Advocacy held at the Lagos State University LASU Ojo, Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello said such awareness needed to be scaled up more for communities within proximity of wetlands.
He added that the awareness programme is to create opportunity for reverine communities to interact with the Government and experts on wetland matters and growing challenges of wetlands encroachment in the state.
The Commissioner who spoke through the Special Adviser, Drainage and Water Resources, Engr Joe Igbokwe said the growing challenges facing wetlands in the State include increase in human population and accommodation thus putting pressure on land demand which is a very scarce resources in the State
He said Wetlands accommodate a variety of land and water dwelling plants and animals which are well known to have rich and distinct ecosystems adding that as a direct result of the rich ecosystems, wetlands are especially important to humanity and the world.
“This ecosystem is dynamic and known to sustain enormous life and provide valuable services which are economically, socially and ecologically important for human survival”. The services they provide ranges from supply of Food, Medicine, Building materials and Fuel to people, Flood control, Water purification, transportation and tourism opportunities amongst others” he informed.
He noted that several of the wetlands in the State at iju, Ejigbo, Badagry, Ikorodu, Itoikin / Orugbo and many more are being encroached upon and reclaimed for estate development without due consideration for environmental guidelines and the need to preserve the ecological values for humanity and their survival.
“Some of these Wetlands are within or along River/ Gorge / Drainage system and heavily vegetated with trees thus acting as carbon sink and as water Retention / Collector for storm water and run-offs” he stated.
He said that the theme for the Advocacy/Awareness Campaign Programme “We Are Part Of The Solution For Nature” was adopted from this Year’s International World Biodiversity Day to involve and commit members of various communities as the main Stakeholders to protect wetlands within their environment.
He revealed that the State Government is in the process of reviewing a draft wetland policy that will protect wetlands in the State and will continue to enforce other relevant environmental laws.
He therefore implore all residents of the State to desist from the acts of using refuse to reclaim wetlands or dump waste in drainage channels across the State adding that it is a joint effort of the people with the State that can assure a safer, cleaner and a flood free environment in the State.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Environmental Services, Mrs. Aderonke Odeneye said the Ministry is developing a sector policy on Wetland and Biodiversity Management to ensure balanced development, where the course of nature will adequately be mainstreamed into the development policy and planning.
“It is however important, as communities and as a people, to do more to preserve nature and protect our wetland from further encroachment as is recently experienced” she said.
She revealed that the Ministry has also embarked on identification and categorization of the wetlands in the State on Consultancy basis, as a follow-up to update identification done in 2009.
The Permanent Secretary, Office of Drainage Services, Engr. Olalekan Shodeinde stated that Wetlands are natural habitations provided by God whose Value cannot be replaced by money.
He said wetlands retain water during the rainy season to prevent flood adding that wetlands are part of lands that are green and never go dry throughout the year.
In his lecture, the guest lecturer from the Department of Zoology & Environmental Biology, Faculty of Science, LASU, Prof. Abiodun Denloye insisted that wetlands must be properly preserved for human survival.
He said a portion of land that retain water up to six metres throughout the year qualifies to be a wetland adding that such lands help to purify waste water and return it clean to the underground water depots
“Wetlands have economic values as they can be used for water transportation, tourism and create employment opportunities for people. 74 communities have interconnection with wetlands across the state and this programme is therefore not in futility but an action in the right direction” he said.
He however called for actions to be taking at both the local and government level to collaborate with research and educational institutions to sustain reclamation of some wetlands in the State.
Director (Public Affairs)
June 2, 2021