The Lagos State Government has again emphasised its commitment to sustainable biodiversity management, through partnerships with reputable Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to stimulate action for the conservation of Biological Diversity as well as adequate awareness and enlightenment about biological biodiversity for economic growth.
Speaking at a Press Briefing held in Alausa on Tuesday as part of activities to mark the Y2022 World Biological Biodiversity Day, Commissioner for the Environment, Tunji Bello, said that biodiversity is an essential asset that must be sustainably managed, wisely utilised and conserved for the future generation.
Bello said the theme for the Y2022 celebration: “Building a Shared Future for All Life”, presupposes that nature must have a natural balance for the survival of all living and non-living things in the environment, adding that any alteration in the natural ecosystem will have an aftereffect on the environment.
He described Biological Diversity as the variety of plants and animals that live in an ecosystem, which includes the provision of food security, environmental stability, ecosystems restoration and recreational values, adding that Biodiversity remains the foundation upon which the natural ecosystem can build back better and massively scale up restoration effects that will breathe new life into degraded ecosystems.
In his words: “This year’s theme aligns perfectly within the context of the ongoing United Nations Decade on Eco-Restoration, which highlights that biodiversity is the answer to several challenges to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially goal 14 (Life below Water) and goal 15 (Life on Land & Climate action)”.
He pointed out that the greatest threats facing Biological Diversity today are numerous but preeminent amongst them are habitat destruction and over-exploitation, stressing that the quest by property developers to acquire land for housing projects has led to the wanton destruction of many wetlands and forest ecosystems that serve as habitat for a considerable percentage of the State’s Biodiversity.
Explaining that over-exploitation of wildlife was also a major contributor to the alarming rate of decline in the population of several species of animals in the State, Bello emphasised that animals facing imminent threat of extinction are Pangolin, Hooded Vulture, Sea Turtle and Manatee populations and noted that the trend is progressively destroying the Earth’s Biological Diversity while equally upsetting the Environment’s Ecological Balance.
The Commissioner submitted that the State Government was aware of the development and has continuously taken various steps aimed at addressing them through advocacy and awareness campaigns on Wetlands Conservation across the three Senatorial Districts in Lagos to further prevent encroachment, reclamation and also protect the ecosystem and its inhabitants.
“Other steps taken include the partnership with the Lekki Urban Forest and Animal Sanctuary Initiative (LUFASI) and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) on the conservation of the Hooded Vulture, Pangolin and Ekki tree population in the State. These partnerships will help protect critically endangered species from extinction and serve as a springboard for their sustained population in the wild”, he said.
He, however, warned those who engage in the illicit trade and sales of wildlife, especially in the wet markets across the State, to desist as the Ministry will soon commence surveillance and enforcement exercise to curb the menace, adding that apart from the threat that this trade poses to wildlife population, the possible outbreak of zoonotic disease is of serious concern to the present administration.
Bello also appealed to all stakeholders around the world to continue to establish new protected areas and improve their management while taking necessary action on the implementation of biological diversity.