The Federal Government says it is considering a National Mangrove Restoration Project that will deliver environmental and sustainable livelihood benefits for people living in the Niger Delta region.
Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, made this known in a statement issued by Mr. Saghir el Mohammed, the Director Press in the Ministry.
Ikeazor said the project would serve as measures toward ensuring the protection of mangroves and oceans in the country.
She announced this as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2020 International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.
The International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystem was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2015, and it is celebrated on July 26 of every year.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Towards a Sustainable Use of Mangrove Wood Resources”.
According to her, the Federal Government is ready to support any programme that will help in promoting healthy mangrove ecosystem in the country.
She said that Nigeria has the largest mangrove cover in Africa, and the fourth largest in the world, adding that over 60 per cent of these mangroves, equivalent to 6,000 square kilometres, are found in the Niger Delta region.
“Physically, they serve as buffers between marine and terrestrial communities; protect shorelines from damaging winds, waves and floods; and reduce coastal erosion. Mangrove thickets improve water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments from the land.
Ecologically, they provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms and support a rich biodiversity, their soils are highly effective carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon, thereby reducing Greenhouse Gases”.
The minister called on individuals and corporate organizations to support government’s effort in making sure that mangroves are restored and protected across the country.
“The Federal Government is demonstrating its commitment to the conservation and management of the mangroves by signing and ratifying some multilateral agreements, such as Abidjan Convention, Ramsar Convention and Maputo Convention, among others.”
She disclosed that Nigeria has joined and committed to the 30By30 Global Ocean Alliance, a UK-led initiative, aimed at protecting 30 per cent of the global oceans within Marine Protected area by 2030.
“The government, through the Department of Forestry, is undertaking a Mangrove Restoration Project, known as ‘Mangrove for Life Project, aimed to restore degraded and manage existing mangrove forests in Nigeria.
This project is being implemented through Wetlands International (Africa) and Regional Partnership for Coastal and Marine Conservation. In addition, the Department of Forestry and the National Park Service have conducted a coastal study to identify potential marine protected areas.”
Ikeazor said that four reserve sites were identified and assessed in the study, which include Taylor Creek Forest, Num Forest, Apoi Creek Forest and Edumanon Forest, all in Bayelsa State.
According to her, the assessment indicated that two (Apoi Creek Forest Reserve and Edumanon Forest Reserve) of the four sites are viable for upgrading to the status of Marine Protected area.