The Lagos State Government has blazed the trail in the development of a policy on wetland conservation, protection and management in the State.
The Policy on wetland was developed to establish an effective and efficient legal frame work, improve scientific information and knowledge base on Lagos wetlands as well as strengthen institutional capacity on conservation and management of wetlands amongst others.
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, recently.
In his welcome address the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment, Engr. Adeyemi Saliu Abidemi, who was represented by the Director, Administration and Human Resources, Mrs. Adeola Olatokun, highlighted the importance of wetland to human existence and the need for the restoration of degraded wetlands through conservation and preservation.
“Wetlands 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.
Despite these huge benefits to mankind, current global and local trends have shown that wetlands 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 shows that 91% of wetlands in Lagos has been taken over by various man-made factors. This is made worse by the relatively small land area available in Lagos and the need to provide shelter for the burgeoning population,” he said.
He stated that due to the compelling need to rescue the wetlands from abuse as well as preserve their bio-diversity, the State Government was taking the initiative to develop a draft policy on wetland management.
Prof. Dele Olowokudejo of the Department of Botany, University of Lagos, who lead the review, said that Government recognized 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.
He further informed participants that the draft policy comprised fourteen policy statements which would serve as guiding principles for wetland in the state, adding that the review of the document was to accommodate comments and more inputs from stakeholders’ as well as build ownership.
Other participants among whom were retire Permanent Secretaries, Non-Governmental organisations, Sole Administrators of LGAs and LCDAs and environmentalists’, applauded the initiative of the State Government and urged for the incorporation of monitoring and inter-agency collaboration into the policy.