Environmentalist seeks better wetland management

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Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

An environmentalist and Principal Consultant, MS and Associates Limited, Mr. Michael Simire, has called for synergy between relevant government Ministries, Department and Agencies as well as other stakeholders for planning, implementation and information sharing on wetland management in Lagos State and the country at large.

Simire, who is also the founder of EnviroNews Nigeria, said wetlands had undergone severe spatial changes from rapid urbanisation in the past three decades and this had grave consequences for the environment.

“The demand for land for rapid urbanisation led to unplanned and extensive reclamation of wetlands, sand filling of lagoon shores, excessive dredging, encroachment on natural drainage channels and unrestrained deforestation. This uncontrolled urban expansion has had serious repercussions on the environmental quality of many parts of the metropolis,” he said.

Simire, who spoke on ‘Planning and management of urban and peri-urban wetlands in Lagos State’ during a meeting of members of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Lagos State Chapter, said the conversion of large tracts of wetlands into built-up area had over time resulted in increased flooding.

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He said the way forward was for the government and other relevant stakeholders to improve awareness of the benefits that wetlands delivered at different levels, including teaching programmes at universities, wider public awareness campaigns, and provision of targeted information across government departments.

“There should be a sensitive urban planning policy development, including development frameworks and spatial zonation to protect ecosystem services, especially those of wetlands,” he said.

According to him, wetlands should also be explicitly included as natural infrastructure in urban planning, including in landscape planning and all aspects of water management, such as storm water management, water resources and water treatment.

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He added that every proposed developmental activity relating to a wetland should be subjected to relevant assessment and prerequisite environmental approval, while a periodic inventory and mapping of all identified wetlands should be carried out.

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