The Nigerian Conservation Foundation has warned against encroachment of Magodo wetlands, adding that the development would lead to immeasurable loss of biodiversity.
This is contained in a statement signed by Oladapo Soneye, Communications Manager at NCF and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos.
Soneye described Wetlands as dynamic aquatic ecosystem found all over the world.
He said that Lagos State, the land of aquatic splendour, has wetlands all over its five divisions in the State.
“Recently, there has been an allegation that some people are making efforts to clear off the Magodo wetlands.
“NCF considers this as insensitive and lack of understanding of the important role that wetlands play and we call on the agency of government responsible for protecting the wetlands to swing into action to stop the destruction.
“We therefore make an appeal to the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources as an organ of government with professional and experienced individuals in conservation and ecology to advice the concerned on the dangers inherent in destroying or degrading wetlands in our environment,” Soneye said.
He quotes the Director -General of NCF, Dr Joseph Onoja as saying:
“Urgent intervention such as awareness creation, habitat restoration, and livelihood improvement are part of the solutions to stop further degradation of wetlands and help in their restoration.”
Soneye said that Wetland iis an area of land that is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally; and can be freshwater, brackish, or saline.
“Wetlands can be thought of as biological supermarkets that provide great volume of food which attract many animal species.
“These animals use wetlands for part of or all their life cycle. It provides values that no other ecosystem can.
“These include natural water quality improvement, flood protection, shoreline, erosion control, opportunities for recreation and aesthetic appreciation and natural products for our use at no cost,” Soneye said.
He noted that Wetlands contribute immensely to tackling climate change challenges by enhancing the adaptation and resilience capacity of the ecosystems, provide nature-based climate solutions and address socio-economic challenges such as water pollution, erosion, food security and human health, and disaster risk management by restoring water catchments.
He listed some of the benefits of Wetlands to include capturing and storing of rainwater; replenishing ground water aquifers; regulating water quantity and supply by releasing water at the right time to the right place in the right amounts.
Others included improving water quality by removing and absorbing pollutants.
He stressed that Wetlands in Nigeria were highly valuable as they contain a variety of reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and bird’s species.
“Wetlands sustain life and keep us healthy. Healthy watersheds provide natural, safe drinking water and support food production.
“Wetlands give us much of the fish we eat and are used in cultivating rice for 3.5 billion people globally.
“Wetlands are important for biodiversity as 40 per cent of the world’s species live in wetlands, with new fish species discovered in freshwater wetlands annually.
In considering the economic importance of wetlands, they play a vital role in addressing socio-economic challenges through multi-sectoral job creation for people in sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and tourism.
“Unfortunately, these rich ecosystems are being threatened and lost at an alarming rate due to population pressure; poverty; deforestation; intensive cultivation; oil and gas exploration, industrial waste pollution; coastal and marine erosion; overgrazing as well as climate change,” Soneye said.
He noted that World Wetlands Day is commemorated globally on Feb. 2, annually to harp on the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet, with the need to preserve and conserve.
Soneye said that NCF had been playing a leading role in mobilizing support, attracting attention, and influencing decisions in favour of wetlands protection and conservation in Nigeria.
He added that the foundation continues to intensify drastic efforts in ensuring that wetlands are not being considered as waste land.