As part of measures to ensure the protection of mangroves and oceans, the Federal Government has kick-started a National Mangrove Restoration Project that will deliver environmental and sustainable livelihood benefits for people in the Niger Delta region.
Besides, it has also identified four sites, Taylor Creek Forest Reserve, Num Forest Reserve, Apoi Creek Forest Reserve, and Edumanon Forest Reserve, all in Bayelsa State, which two of them are viable, that would be upgraded to the status of Marine Protected Area.
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, announced this project as Nigeria joined the global community to commemorate the 2020 International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.
Ikeazor also explained that the government is ready to support any programme that would promote healthy mangrove ecosystem, adding that over 60 per cent of these mangroves, equivalent to 6,000 square kilometres is found in Nigeria, which has the largest mangrove cover in Africa, and the fourth largest in the World.
Her words: 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.”
Similarly, she argued, 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 therefore, called on individuals and corporate organisations to support government’s effort in making sure that mangroves are restored and protected across the country.
“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,” she added.
In order to sustainable utilisation of ocean resources, she maintained that Nigeria has joined and committed to the 30By30 Global Ocean Alliance, a UK-led initiative, aimed at protecting 30 per cent 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 is aimed at restoring existing mangrove forests in Nigeria.”
“In addition, the Department of Forestry and the National Park Service have conducted a coastal study to identify potential marine protected areas. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Towards a Sustainable Use of Mangrove Wood Resources.”