78 per cent of Lagos is water.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Environment, Tunji Bello, on Monday decried the encroachment of wetlands, including mangrove swamps on the coast and freshwater swamps.
According to a statement signed by Bolarinwa Yusuf of the Public Relations Department of the Ministry, Mr. Bello said that over 51 per cent of the wetlands were indiscriminately encroached on due to urbanisation.
He stressed the need to sensitise people on the importance of wetlands to the survival of human beings with a view to returning it to its natural state.
“Wetlands provide valuable services to satisfy economic, social and ecological needs of local, national and international communities. Wetlands also play an important role in flood assimilation as well as provision of source of food, medicine, fuel and building materials to people living around them,” he explained.
The commissioner noted that the topography of Lagos State harboured about 78 per cent water bodies of various sizes such as ocean, lagoon, lakes, streams, and wetlands.
He said the explosion of the state’s population, the limited land size and the demand for housing and industrial development had placed the wetlands on the verge of extinction.
He said that agriculture (fishing and cultivation of crops) had the highest land use with 55.9 per cent occupancy, residential with 31.2 per cent, and recreation 3.9 per cent.
He also said transportation had 2.6 per cent, herb collection 2.6 per cent, worship 2.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent for others, such as sand mining and trading.
Mr. Bello said wetlands were crucial to agriculture as it had become more evident that there was need to encourage the agricultural sector to embrace responsible agricultural practises which would further boost and support wetlands.
He mentioned some of the functions of wetlands to include the support of cultivation of rice; provision of a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation.
“The preservation of wetlands is a compulsory option for life and living. If we continue to destroy it, we compromise our future and endanger posterity. If our forefathers had preserved it for us, we also have the sacred responsibility of conserving it for our children yet unborn.”