As part of efforts to sustain the environment, the Lagos State Government has resorted to students of secondary schools to champion the ideals of conserving the state wetlands and its biodiversity through ecotourism.
The Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Babatunde Adejare made this known during the press briefing to mark the commencement of the second edition of the Conservation Ecotourism for students in Lagos State Secondary Schools in Alausa, recently.
Adejare maintained that the ecotourism had the primary intention of changing the perception of the general public about conventional tourism, especially as it relates to the environment.
“The goal of this programme is to encourage sustainable travel practices that promote the conservation of protected natural areas in the State and expose students to the natural environment,” he said.
According to him the Youth Wetlands Education and Eco-tourism programme would provide science-based, hands-on activities for students to gain proper understanding of the functions and values of wetlands and explore strategies for sustaining these unique ecosystems.
He said government was not comfortable with alarming rate of wetlands and biodiversity loss in Lagos State as exemplified by the National Theater and Iju wetlands, which was as a result of indiscriminate destruction of natural habitats, reclamation for housing estate development and population expansion.
He disclosed that in realization of the need for people to have a change of heart, the Lagos State Government was educating the young ones who were leaders of tomorrow to embrace the correct use of God-given environmental resources and spread the message to others.
His words: “The Lagos State Government, being mindful of the capacity of the young ones to communicate and bring about change, has adopted the strategy to educate every young pupil to embrace sustainable use of environmental resources and discourage unhealthy abuse of the wetlands in the State.”
Adejare pointed out that the ten participating students, who were selected through a rigorous process, would have the opportunity to visit some pristine and fragile ecosystems, zoological gardens and conservation centres across the five divisions of Lagos State to acquaint them with the abundant wetlands resources and biodiversity of the State.
The Commissioner stated that the recommendations from the first edition of the programme in 2016 led to the protection of some wetlands in the State, especially in Iyafin, Badagry and Itoikin-Orugbo in Epe.
His words: “It is noteworthy to mention that following the recommendations from the maiden edition of this programme, the Lagos State Government commenced the protection of wetlands in the state and recorded successes in encouraging the host communities of the Iyafin wetland in Badagry and the Itoikin –Orugbo wetland in Epe to take ownership.”
He enjoined Lagosians to commit themselves to a lifestyle that encouraged environmentally friendly options and embraced the attitude of visiting eco-tourism sites for relaxation and knowledge of the environment.