The federal government has concluded plans to launch a National Mangrove Restoration Project that would unveil sustainable environment and livelihood for people living in the Niger Delta region.
The project tagged: ‘Mangrove for Life Project,’ to be undertaken by the department of forestry, is expected to restore degraded and manage existing mangrove forests in Nigeria.
Minister of State for Environment, Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, stated this in Abuja yesterday, in commemoration of the 2020 International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem with the theme: “Towards a Sustainable Use of Mangrove Wood Resources.”
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 the 26th of July.
Ikeazor stated that the project is implemented through Wetlands International (Africa) and Regional Partnership for Coastal and Marine Conservation, adding that the Department of Forestry and the National Park Service (NPS) have conducted a coastal study to identify potential marine protected areas.
She hinted that the federal government was ready to support any programme that would help in promoting a healthy mangrove ecosystem in the country.
The minister disclosed that Nigeria has the largest mangrove cover in Africa and the fourth largest in the world, stressing that over 60 per cent of the mangroves, which is equivalent to 6,000 square kilometres, is found in the Niger-Delta region.
According to her, “Physically, mangroves serve as buffers between marine and terrestrial communities, protect shorelines from damaging winds, waves and floods, reduce coastal erosion, improve water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments from the land.”
She added, “Ecologically, they provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms and support a rich biodiversity. Their soils are highly effective carbon sinks that reduce vast amounts of carbon and greenhouse gases.”
The minister enjoined individuals and corporate organisations to support the government’s effort in making sure that mangroves were restored and protected across the country.
She pointed out 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.
Ikeazor maintained that Nigeria has joined and is committed to the 30 by 30 Global Ocean Alliance, a UK-led initiative, aimed at protecting 30 per cent of the global oceans within the Marine Protected Area by 2030.
She disclosed that four sites were identified and assessed during the study such as Taylor Creek Forest Reserve, Num Forest Reserve, Apoi Creek Forest Reserve and Edumanon Forest Reserve, all in Bayelsa state.
The minister added that the assessment indicated that two Apoi Creek Forest Reserve and Edumanon Forest Reserve were viable for upgrading to the status of Marine Protected Area.