As Lagos joins the global community in celebrating World Wetland Day on Friday, the State Government has called for concerted efforts to address wetland quality decline through wetland restoration.
Addressing the media at the Secretariat, Alausa, Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tokunbo Wahab listed ways and means of addressing pollution and cleaning up of freshwater resources across the state.
Wahab stressed that addressing the decline will also include increasing water efficiency, integrating wetlands into development plans and resource management.
He said the Day is celebrated globally on February 2nd to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands and the best approach to protect this most productive ecosystem on the planet.
Highlighting the year 2024 theme: “Wetland and Human Wellbeing”, Wahab added that the 2024 campaign spotlights wetlands as a critical ecosystem to people and nature as well as recognising the intrinsic value of wetland ecosystems and their benefits to human existence.
He explained that the loss of wetlands is a global issue that requires urgent mitigation, bearing in mind that 35% of global Wetlands have been lost in 55 years based on the Global Wetland Outlook of 2018.
The Commissioner added that it is unfortunate some of the world’s wetlands are under threat because of human activities such as the construction of houses and other structures on the wetland that is supposed to house diverse species of birds, fish and amphibians thus draining the wetlands.
He stressed that the impacts emanating from this urbanisation include water scarcity, exposure to flooding, extreme weather events, loss of livelihoods and well-being as well as food insecurity.
Wahab explained that wetlands include rivers, lakes, marshes, rice fields and coastal areas, adding that Wetlands are of prime importance as they connect communities to the benefits of Mother Nature.
He said Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits and ecosystem services that they provide to humanity.
He stated that two of the most important wetland ecosystem services affect human well-being through the provision of fresh water and fish for humans while residents living near wetlands, are highly dependent on these services and are directly harmed by their degradation.
The Commissioner further stated that despite these great natural services, wetland quality has continued to decline, which necessitated the clarion call for action and protection of these wetlands.
Wahab stressed that Wetlands help to regulate the climate, adding that wetlands store twice as much carbon as forests, with salt marshes mangroves, and seagrass beds also holding vast amounts of carbon.
The Commissioner said the government has been making concerted efforts to protect Wetlands and prevent them from further degradation within the State through different programmes and projects.
He outlined some of these programmes including Routine monitoring of the identified Wetlands in the State, Public Awareness in the three Senatorial Districts in the State and erection of warning signposts on identified Wetlands across the State.