Lagos State rich ecosystem, which is home to a variety of aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, is under serious threat of extinction from a range of causes, chief of which is rapid urbanisation that has occurred in the past decades.
The state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who disclosed this, explained that today, 16 out of the 20 local governments of the state form one of the largest urban conurbations on the planet as the Lagos megacity, while the city continues to sprawl towards Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu and Ibeju-Lekki which are now experiencing rapid physical development.
The natural balance, which the Mother Earth had enjoyed over the years has been violated and distorted by man’s activities, especially as he responds to population growth and rapid urbanisation. But the governor warns that with “the growing world population, the mounting pressure on nature’s resources and the dwindling wildlife, flora and fauna as well as the implications for our subsistence, have made a shift in attitude towards the environment a necessity.”
Though urbanization is a welcome socio-economic development, Ambode cautioned, “We do not have to destroy what is irreplaceable to develop or survive. Global climatic events such as flooding, hurricane and landslide have dawned it on us that any development that is not mindful of the environment and its natural heritage is definitely not sustainable.”
Uncontrolled human activities, especially unplanned settlements, were part of the reasons for the recent flooding incident that brought the state on its knees in June this year and the governor, who spoke at the annual ‘Walk for Nature’ organized by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) in collaboration with the state’s ministry of the environment, condemned such activities.
‘Walk for Nature’ is an awareness campaign platform for environmental protection, nature conservation, biodiversity and sustainable development among the citizenry. This year’s edition had as theme, ‘Cleaner Lagos: Foundation for Sustainable Ecotourism.’
The governor noted that “scientific advances and growing environmental challenges such as global warming and wetlands encroachment are helping us to understand the countless ways in which natural systems support our prosperity and well-being; we must recognize the fact that there is an urgent need to improve on our environment and start taking responsibility for our behavior and the attendant environmental impacts.”
Philip Asiodu, president, board of trustees of NCF, had lamented the state of Nigeria’s forests also caused by man’s uncontrolled activities on the environment, adding that this has led to the depletion of Nigeria’s forest cover from 46 percent at independence to less than 7 percent at the present.
“The encroachment of man on wildlife habitat, deforestation, wildlife trafficking, mutilation of animal species among other crimes against nature would not have been so blatant if environmental education had been taken seriously at all levels in Nigeria,” Asiodu said.
Continuing, he said, “climate change would not have become so serious and threatening, if people understood the adverse effects and long-term consequences of man’s insatiable search for development involving destruction of natural assets and resources which are renewable by wiser management”.