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Nigeria’s wetlands needs to be conserved

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By Usman Oladimeji

Wetlands are under threat from water pollution, climate change impact.

The wetlands in Nigeria are bustling with biodiversity and hold both environment and economic value. Ranging from the mangrove forests in the Niger Delta to the expansive Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, these natural habitats are rich in various plant and animal species, serving as crucial spaces for their survival and breeding. Protecting these valuable wetlands is essential for the continued existence of these fragile habitats and is vital for maintaining environmental sustainability and preserving biodiversity in Nigeria. Despite this importance, the wetlands in the Niger Delta are under constant threat from various challenges.

This is because the ecosystem in the region has suffered greatly due to oil exploration and extraction, resulting in habitat destruction, pollution, and a decrease in biodiversity. The release of oil and other harmful substances into the wetlands has specifically harmed the mangrove forests and disrupted the delicate equilibrium of the ecosystem. Likewise, the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands are under threat from excessive use of natural resources, water pollution, and the impacts of climate change. The long-term sustainability of the wetlands is being threatened by unsustainable fishing practices, habitat destruction, and the invasion of non-native species.

Pollution affects water and overall well-being of wetlands.

Just like other wetlands in the country, the Cross River Estuary wetlands are under threat from various sources. Activities such as deforestation, illegal logging, and unsustainable fishing are placing a tremendous strain on the ecosystem. Also, pollution from industrial processes and agricultural runoff are significant issues affecting the water quality and overall well-being of these wetlands. The survival of Nigeria’s wetlands in general, despite their crucial ecological role, is at risk due to a multitude of threats. Urbanization poses a major risk as rapid population growth and expanding cities have resulted in wetlands being encroached upon and transformed into residential, industrial, and agricultural sites.

Another big threat to Nigeria’s wetlands is the issue of pollution. Water quality in these habitats is deteriorating due to industrial operations, agricultural waste, and improper garbage disposal. This pollution not only endangers the animals reliant on these ecosystems but also affects human health. Moreover, climate change worsens the challenges for wetlands, causing higher sea levels, hotter temperatures, and changing rainfall patterns. The delicate equilibrium of wetland ecosystems is being disrupted by these alterations, leading to the loss of habitats and the extinction of species. All these factors have made the conditions of Nigeria wetlands more concerning.

Enforcement of these protective measures remains challenging.

In response to the critical importance of preserving Nigeria’s wetlands, a collaborative approach involving NGOs, research institutions, and government bodies has been adopted. The focus is on educating the public about wetland conservation, introducing sustainable management strategies, and creating protected areas. This initiative also aims to support local communities by promoting sustainable livelihood options. Such initiatives include the Niger Delta Wetlands Conservation Project, a joint effort between the Nigerian government and international partners; and Wetlands International Africa Program, which works to preserve and sustainably manage wetlands across Africa, including Nigeria.

Preservation of wetlands in Nigeria is a priority for the government, as evidenced by the introduction of the National Wetlands Conservation Policy in 2016. Yet, enforcement of these protective measures remains challenging, leaving wetlands vulnerable to threats. It is imperative to enhance the enforcement of current laws and regulations to ensure the preservation of Nigeria’s valuable wetlands. Despite some advancements in wetland conservation in Nigeria, there are still considerable obstacles that need to be addressed.

Related Article: Wetlands suffer environmental degradation

Factors such as limited funding, insufficient resources, and a lack of awareness continue to hinder the conservation of the Nigeria wetlands. Regardless, there is optimism for an improved future seeing how the understanding of wetlands’ importance is expanding both worldwide and in Nigeria. To overcome these hurdles and safeguard Nigeria’s wetlands in the long run, it is crucial to enhance cooperation among government bodies, NGOs, and local communities. Ensuring the preservation of these invaluable ecosystems for future generations can be achieved through dedicated investment in research, education, and sustainable management practices.

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