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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Group underlines commitment to biodiversity conservation

The Coalition for Biodiversity Conservationists of Nigeria (CBCN) has stated that building a future where biodiversity and humankind thrive in harmony is its collective responsibility.

Dr. Salamatu Fada
Dr. Salamatu Fada, Convener, Coalition for Biodiversity Conservationists of Nigeria (CBCN)

The group, which made the declaration at a recent virtual meeting, noted that, in a world faced with steadily growing human impact on the environment, “the need to save the world’s fast depleting biodiversity has become even more compelling”.

In a keynote address titled: “Escalating Anthropogens on Biodiversity Conservation. Past, Present, and Future”, Professor G. S. Mwansat of the University of Jos said: “The earth we live in now is a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene! Humans have modified the natural systems for food, shelter, and economic and social security – all of which are very important for us. However, these activities are helping to erode biodiversity. As a result, some species are extinct already and  up to one million species are threatened with extinction. That is why we are here on this day!

“Unsustainable agriculture such as deforestation and ploughing, monocultures, Irrigation, slash and burn agricultural practices, etc. have resulted in the loss of important ground biota that help natural processes.”

She further pointed out: “The web of life is threatened by pollution leading to the biological magnification of toxins at higher trophic levels; and also, different pollution sources have led to this and greenhouse gases (GHGs) resulting in global warming. Oil bunkering/spill is mainly a problem in the oil-rich Southern Nigeria, rendering water not drinkable or supporting fishing and other uses in the region. Niger Delta is a typical example of how interwoven sustainable development, social justice and species conservation are.

“The need to conserve biodiversity is not restricted to the terrestrial environment” Professor Nwansat further observed. “Oceans also play a vital role in climate mitigation and are a source of protein for some three billion people while containing countless species we know very little about, which could be the source of novel medicines and materials.”

The consequences of the high demand for bushmeat did not escape the attention of the keynote speaker. “Many wildlife species are killed to meet that demand,” she said, adding: “Poaching and smuggling of plants and animals have escalated with devastating consequences.”

She noted, for example, that “a large animal can be gruesomely killed because of a small portion of its body (perhaps less than 3% of its weight), as in the African Elephant and the white rhino, which is believed to be extinct now.”

It was also observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the complex linkages between emerging infectious diseases and unregulated trade in wildlife, habitat loss, biodiversity fragmentation and shifting dispersal patterns caused by new weather extremes.

Unintentional transport of plants and animals to new regions seriously threatens the world’s ecosystems’ biodiversity, structure, and function, said the group, pointing out that threats posed to biodiversity by invasive species are considered second only to habitat loss.

“The devastation in Nigeria’s northeast where the Black Crown Crane Balearica pavonia (Nigeria’s national bird) occurs is a typical example. The species has become vulnerable.”

It was concluded at the meeting that all hands must be on deck for the realisation of a shared future for all life.

“We need to stick to conservation goals and uphold the profession’s ethics.”

The meeting was attended by several conservationists and organisations. Key organisations that participated and presented their goodwill messages include: the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) represented by Dr. Joseph Onoja, Eden Creation Care Initiative by Dr. Grace Pam, Biodiversity Preservation Centre by Prof. Edem Eniang, Save Sahara Network by Dr. Fola Babalola, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency by Ayuba Francis Jacob (Director, Environmental Quality, representing the Director-General), Global Environment Environment Facility (GEF) – Small Grants Programme (SGP) by Mrs Ibironke Olubamise, and Development Agenda magazine by Mr. Paddy Ezeala, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, who moderated the event.

Others are Dr Clement Ebin, Chairman, CBCN Board of Trustees and Professor Ahmad Sanda of Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.

Dr. Salamatu Fada, Convener of CBCN, said: “CBCN is committed to protecting and conserving biological diversity in Nigeria. The commitment, objectives, and goals of CBCN are critical in addressing the past, present, and future escalating anthropogens on biodiversity conservation.”

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