LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES
The Secretariat, Ikeja
WE’LL STEP UP ADVOCACY AGAINST WETLANDS ENCROACHMENT-LASG
…….holds second awareness campaign at Lagos East Senatorial District.
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to step up advocacy/Awareness campaign against wetlands encroachment and educate residents on its importance to the ecology and economy of the state.
Speaking at a Advocacy programme on Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation for Lagos East Senatorial District held at the Afe Babalola Hall, University of Lagos, Akoka, Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello said such awareness is required in order to foster community participation in Wetlands Management across the State.
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 to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystem and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in preventing wetlands encroachment in the state.
He added that the advocacy would help to restore degraded wetlands, protection of identified wetlands and restriction of human activities on wetlands areas, proper soil management, fighting biodiversity loss and encouraging Government, Organizations, Communities and Individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving Wetland Management.
He explained that Advocacy Programmes on Wetlands and Biodiversity Conservation is a matter of global importance that is dear to all due to recent climate change, other adverse effects of Biodiversity loss and Habitat destruction caused by the growing demands of Industrialization, Housing needs and Urbanization in the Society today.
“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” he said.
He stressed that 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 Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people, fish and wildlife adding that some of the functions include protecting and improving water quality, providing food, habitat for fish and wildlife, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.
The Commissioner emphasized that holding capacity of Wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops. Preserving and restoring wetlands together with other water retention can often provide the level of flood control otherwise provided by expensive dredging operations and levies.
He revealed that it is imperative for the Government to act now to mitigate against adverse effects of wrong management of the ecosystem, adding that 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 sign posts 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 develop both Yafin and Itoikin Wetlands into a potential tourism resource centre.
Mr. Bello reiterated that it remains imperative for the Government to ensure a safe, resilient and sustainable Lagos through the conservation and restoration of terrestrial and aquatic natural resources for the wellbeing of the citizens in urban and rural areas of the State
He advised residents to desist from the unwholesome act of dumping refuse or using wastes to reclaim wetlands but rather devise better ways to use wetland economically adding that the Government through the Ministry would ensure the special service offered humanity through the wetlands in the state is preserved and maintained for posterity.
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 awareness campaign planned for this year which is an extension of the International Day Celebration in order to educate the people on the importance of wetlands.
She explained that Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” which provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.
According to her, this is in line with THEMES Agenda and The SDG 15 target 5 that advocates, taking urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, protect, and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
She added that it is important to note that the Government through the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources is committed to the entire SDG’s (1-17) and her THEMES Agenda;Goals 11-15 of the SDG, addresses environmental challenges.
She stated that the Government is bringing this awareness campaign to the community and the people in order to further educate and participate in their development and ensure their commitment to sustainable environment.
She urged everyone to contribute to securing a healthy flood-free and prosperous future for the generation unborn adding that this is the time to take ownership by maintaining and restoring our wetland Ecosystem.
The guest lecturer and Dean of Post Graduate School, University of Lagos, Prof. Alabi Soneye said spoke 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 numbers and sizes of the wetlands across the state.
He urged everyone to improve on poor urban planning and weak development control; non adherence to land use and zoning plans; poor sanitation and waste management in the state.
Director (Public Affairs)
August 11, 2021.