Stakeholders seek inter-agency collaboration in Lagos wetlands policy

A wetland

A wetland

Notwithstanding the huge benefits of wetlands to mankind, current global and local trends have shown that they are being degraded at an alarming rate.

In Lagos State for instance, a study carried out by Nigeria Environment Study/Action Team (NEST) in 2011 showed that 91 percent of wetlands in Lagos have been taken over by various man-made factors.

Worried by this development, the Lagos State government has launched a policy on wetland conservation, protection and management.

The draft policy document, which had gone through different levels of considerations, was presented for review at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on policy formulation on Wetland conservation and management in Lagos State, held at the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry Conference hall, Ikeja

Speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Adeyemi Abidemi, said the policy on wetland was developed to establish an effective and efficient legal framework for the state.

He stated that it was also to improve scientific information and knowledge base on Lagos wetlands as well as strengthen institutional capacity on conservation and management of wetlands.

Abidemi, who was represented by the Director, Administration and Human Resources in the Ministry of the Environment, Mrs. Adeola Olatokun, said the state took the initiative to develop a draft policy on wetland management due to the compelling need to rescue the wetlands from abuse as well as preserve their bio-diversity.

According to him, there is need for the restoration of degraded wetlands through conservation and preservation because of the importance of wetland to human existence.

He said: “Wet lands are among the most biologically rich ecosystems on earth and are critically important to human existence.

“Wetlands contribute to the state and the communities where they exist as sources of water, food, medicine, handcrafts and shelter. Wetlands serve as refuge for animals and provide abode for cultural, recreational and tourist activities”. He added.

At an interactive session, stakeholders, which includeD retired Permanent Secretaries, Non-Governmental organisations, sole administrators of local councils and environmentalists, called for the inclusion of monitoring and inter-agency collaboration into the policy.

According to them, the inclusion of monitoring and inter-agency collaboration into the policy will make it more effective.

They applauded the state government for blazing the trail in the development of a policy on wetland conservation, protection and management in Nigeria.

For Prof. Dele Olowokudejo of the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Government should recognise that wetland resources were being adversely affected by the process of urban development, owing to the rapid expansion of Lagos State, hence, the development of the policy.

Olowokudejo, who led the review, informed participants that the draft policies, which comprise 14 policy statements, would serve as guiding principles for wetland in the state.

The review of the document, he said, was to accommodate comments and more inputs from stakeholders’ as well as build ownership.

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