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Environmentalists Raise Awareness of Value of Wetlands

Environmental Advocacy groups including the Lekki Bird Club, Green Action, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and Green Fingers Wildlife Initiative have raised awareness of the value of wetlands to Lagos State and Nigeria.

This was the highlight of the Photography Exhibition themed, “Wetlands for Man and Biodiversity”, hosted by the Deputy British High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones.

Foremost Environmentalist, Mr Desmond Majekodunmi of Lufasi Conservation Park spoke on the importance of bringing “Our collective attention and awareness to the ongoing deforestation of the Lagos wetlands and the important role they play in our environmental and economic progress in Lagos”.

He said: “What people see as swampy, stagnant water is key to many facets of our city life such as being a natural, low-cost wastewater treatment, flood mitigation, climate control and even providing a natural breeding ground that supports our fishing populations.”

Majekodunmi also warned that “We are, however, close to losing most of our natural wetlands due to factors like overpopulation and the need for more housing which has led to the sand filling of some of these wetlands to accommodate the housing needs of urban Lagos.

“However, when a wetland is sand-filled, the soil hardens and it loses the ability to prevent flooding; instead, it makes flooding worse. This is particularly important for Lagos, where the total economic losses due to flooding across the state have been estimated at $4 billion per year, which is 4.1 per cent of the state’s GDP or 1.0 per cent of the national GDP.”

This exhibition is the second in the awareness campaign organized by the environmentalists for the National Theatre Igamu wetlands. The first was a 3-day exhibition held in July this year and was visited by the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing CB, environmentalists, the press and schools from the local area.

The National Theatre is currently being renovated into a world-class space for creatives by the Bankers Committee and the various stakeholders are excited about this development as it presents an opportunity to showcase the mangroves and the beauty they add to the Lagos environment.

It also allows the developers the opportunity to set the standard on how to sustainably develop in urban areas whilst restoring the integrity of the wetlands.

Thus creating a world-class wetlands education centre within the National Theatre that will be used by schools, students, researchers, eco-tourists and Lagos residents. This approach would help to educate people about the value of wetlands, mangroves, and associated wildlife and enable them to experience the wetlands.

It is therefore important to ensure that the National Theatre wetlands are restored to create one of Africa’s best practice wetlands in line with models such as the London Wetland Centre and the Panama Bay Wetland (Tocumen International Airport) creating a culture of sustainability in Lagos which would inspire the leaders of tomorrow across Africa.

The British High Commissioner, Ben Llewelyn-Jones said: “Protection and restoration of critical ecosystems such as wetlands require international cooperation, policy-making, capacity building, and technology transfer.

In January 2021, the UK announced a commitment of at least £3 billion from our existing commitment of £11.6bn for international climate finance.

This money has been earmarked for climate change solutions that protect biodiversity-rich land and ocean ecosystems, and support livelihoods.

Llewelyn-Jones added: “In Nigeria, we are collaborating with the Federal and State Governments, as well as Civil Society Organisations to create the enabling environment and fundamental drivers that are key to conservation and the sustainable use of nature.

“Through the UK-funded FSD Africa program, we are committed to supporting the Lagos State Government’s initiative to build a sustainable, and flood-resilient mega city; by helping to mobilise green financing via the capital market and insurance industry.”

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