As part of measures towards ensuring the protection of mangroves and oceans in the country, the Nigerian government is considering a National Mangrove Restoration Project that will deliver environmental and sustainable livelihood benefits for people living in the Niger Delta region.
Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Sharon Ikeazor, announced this as Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2020 International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem on Sunday, July 26, 2020.
Ikeazor further stated that the federal government is ready to support any programme that would help in promoting healthy mangrove ecosystem in the country.
According to her, Nigeria has the largest mangrove cover in Africa, and the fourth largest in the World.
She added that over 60% of these mangroves, equivalent to 6,000 square kilometres, is found in the Niger Delta region.
She said: “Physically, they serve as buffers between marine and terrestrial communities; protect shorelines from damaging winds, waves and floods; and reduce coastal erosion. Mangrove thickets improve water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments from the land.
“Ecologically, they provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms and support a rich biodiversity. Their soils are highly effective carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon, thereby reducing greenhouse gases.”
The minister called on individuals and corporate organisations to support government’s effort in making sure that mangroves are restored and protected across the country.
She disclosed that the federal government is demonstrating its commitment to the conservation and management of the mangroves, by signing and ratifying some multilateral agreements, such as Abidjan Convention, Ramsar Convention and Maputo Convention, among others.
As part of efforts in sustainable utilisation of ocean resources, she disclosed that Nigeria has joined and committed to the 30By30 Global Ocean Alliance, a UK-led initiative, aimed at protecting 30% of the global oceans within Marine Protected Area by 2030.
“The government, through the Department of Forestry, is undertaking a Mangrove Restoration Project, known as ‘Mangrove for Life Project’, which aims to restore degraded and manage existing mangrove forests in Nigeria.
“This project is being implemented through Wetlands International (Africa) and Regional Partnership for Coastal and Marine Conservation.
“In addition, the Department of Forestry and the National Park Service have conducted a coastal study to identify potential marine protected areas,” she noted.
Ikeazor further stated that four sites were identified and assessed in this study that include Taylor Creek Forest Reserve, Num Forest Reserve, Apoi Creek Forest Reserve and Edumanon Forest Reserve, all in Bayelsa State.
According to her, the assessment indicated that two (Apoi Creek Forest Reserve and Edumanon Forest Reserve) of the four sites are viable for upgrading to the status of Marine Protected Area.
The International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystem was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2015, and it is celebrated each year on July 26.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Towards a Sustainable Use of Mangrove Wood Resources”.