Minister calls for urgent action on ecosystem restoration

Nigeria joins other countries to commemorate World Environment Day to achieve a common goal of making the environment safe for national development.

The World Environment Day was held at Osogbo, Osun state with the theme “Ecosystem Restoration – Resetting our Relation with Nature”. The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, added that the theme was carefully chosen to reflect the starting existential realities as evidenced by the imbalances being experienced in the ecosystem, hence a clarion call for urgent action.

Dr. Abubakar reiterate the fact that the environment provides the condition for all living organisms, including man, fauna and flora to operate, in addition to providing the livelihoods for their survival, while the ecosystem essentially relates to the biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

“It is unambiguous that there exists a strong nexus between environment and ecosystem, and the two remain fundamental factors to human wellbeing and the survival of our planet.

Dr. Abubabak, however, said man’s interaction with nature, coupled with the challenges and impacts of Climate Change, have grossly exacerbated the deleterious state of the environment. Even, the terrestrial and marine ecosystems are not spared. “It is instructive that the world population especially Africa, will continued to increase geometrically, leading to an unprecedented competition for the available meagre resources for survival.

“Other endemic factors such as poverty, food shortage, high unemployment rate, and recently COVID-19 pandemic have significantly worsened the ecosystem, resulting in weak resilience and adaptation and thereby denying us of its invaluable services.

“This is expected to afford us the needed restoration and also the much-needed sustainable development goals including security, water, disaster risk reduction and livelihood improvement.

According to the minister, the federal government, being conscious of the alarming rate of deforestation standing at between 3.7 – 4.0%, has continued to engage locally and internationally, in addition to the formulation of enabling policies and legislations aimed to bring the situation under control and also commenced execution of nature-based programmes and projects to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in view of their multiple benefits which include among others, climate amelioration, improved ecosystem services, enhanced water security, enhanced food security (especially through Agroforestry, improved soil organic carbon and water retention, improved productivity and resilience), disaster risk reduction, and improved nature-based jobs and livelihoods.

Dr. Abubabak said all levels of governments have made efforts to promote resilient environmental sustainability in the context of national development. These initiatives include, among others:

He further stated that the federal government initiatives is to promote enabling policy environment; Strengthening institutional capacity; Building partnerships and participating in global initiation; and implementing special initiatives and actions.

“The key strategic interventions is to sustainable management of critical wetlands ecosystems and watershed for environmental sustainability across the country, entailing restoration of the degraded ecosystems within the wetland areas, mitigation of adverse effects of soil and land degradation, livelihoods improvement, and local empowerment.

The minister stressed that the National Afforestation Programme across all the ecological zones of the country including the establishment of Great Green Wall across the frontline states with other associated programmes such as sensitization and awareness creation, promotion of dry land agricultural technology, provision of water for irrigation and domestic uses, development of grazing resources, promotion of alternative and sustainable sources of energy, promotion of alternative means of livelihoods as well as creation of enabling environment for the development of agro-based industries. Others include, reforestation of degraded forest reserves and other landscapes.

“Strategic campaign, advocacy and awareness creation on forestry, wildlife and biodiversity conservation in schools, forest dependent communities, as well as in some states of the federation.
Hydrocarbon and Pollution Remediation Project to address the issue of hydrocarbon and other pollution emanating from oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta.

He noted that promoting economic development, reducing poverty, food security, and improving the livelihoods of billions of people and expanding areas for unsustainable agricultural production and other forms of land degradation may pose critical challenges to our environment, sustainability of forests and other important terrestrial ecosystems, increasing emissions, reducing resilience to climate impacts, and contributing to biodiversity loss