The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, adopted by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015 and celebrated annually on 26 July, aims to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem” and to promote solutions for their sustainable management, conservation and uses. The day is set aside to reflect on why and how we need to save mangroves.
The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) joins other mangrove conservationists to commemorate this years’ event and uses the opportunity to draw the attention of relevant stakeholders to increasingly shrinking mangrove forest in the Niger Delta region. Mangroves are essential and contributes significantly to our wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities. Mangroves support a rich biodiversity and provide a conducive breeding ground for fish and other aquatic life. As a result, the mangrove ecosystem contributes to the sustenance of traditional livelihood structures in the Niger Delta region. Mangroves provide a bar of protection and act as a form of natural coastal defense against storm, surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels and erosion. The soils of mangroves are highly effective as carbon sinks and sequesters huge amount of carbons.
Despite the enormous goods and services provided by the mangrove to mankind, they are fast disappearing due to unsustainable harvesting, oil spills, release of obnoxious discharge from industrial plants, use of mangrove areas as camps for artisanal oil refining activities. Destroying the mangrove forest has serious ecological and socio-economic implications. CEHRD is using this opportunity to admonish communities and other stakeholders to take measures to conserve the mangrove forest. CEHRD is currently creating awareness, providing platforms for knowledge sharing and developing the capacity of local communities to map coastal biodiversity. Given that linkages between biodiversity and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) have been established, the commemoration of this year’s mangrove conservation day provides an opportunity to urge stakeholders to develop necessary policies to conserve the mangrove forest, specifically in the Niger Delta, Africa’s largest expanse of mangrove. This will help protect the remaining wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Most importantly, there is urgent need to create network of mangrove protection area in the Niger Delta, as embracing on aggressive community led mangrove restoration of former mangrove areas. We insist that there will be a stop to the increasing use of saw mills to cut down mangroves for other uses. Lastly, a culture of sustainable mangrove harvesting, extensive sensitization, development of co-management models between government and communities, and provision of alternative sources of fuel for coastal communities will reinforce the conservation of the depleted mangrove forest.
|Prof. Nenibarini Zabbey||Kabari Sam (PhD)|
|Coordinator CEHRD||Head, Environmental and Conservation (CEHRD)|
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