World Environment Day: Protect the Earth, Protect Life
The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) joins other organizations and individuals all over the world to commemorate the 2016 World Environment Day.
The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “Go Wild for Life – Save the Environment”. It is a clarion call on all and sundry to practice wildlife conservation as well as show zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife. We must consciously protect all plant and animal species that have come under the threat of extinction at the local, national or global levels. This, we can do by showing respect for biodiversity, by promoting effective protection of the natural environment, and supporting effective resource use and management to enhance sustainable development.
As the world commemorates the World Environment Day, CEHRD seizes this opportunity to reflect on environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which is the main threat to wildlife in the region. Large scale industrial pollution, gas flaring and oil spills are the major degraders of the environment of the delta. These have also destroyed local livelihood structures. Anthropogenic threats to wetlands –the biodiversity hotspots of the Niger Delta, are direct threats to wildlife. It is sad to note that 44 years after the Declarations of the United Nations Conference on the Environment in Stockholm, and 24 years after the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development, Nigerians particularly the Niger Delta region is still witnessing gas flaring and oil pollution with impunity.
With a very weak legal, institutional and regulatory framework, we are worried that wildlife population will continue to decline in Nigeria. Already, scientists and oceanographers are expressing concern over the issue of global warming resulting from climate change, and the Nigerian government is yet to put in place concrete strategy for mitigation and adaptation.
We, therefore call on the government of Nigeria and the multinational oil and gas corporations to jointly take some urgent steps to end gas flaring and oil pollution in the Niger Delta as well as addressing the challenge of desertification in northern Nigeria. Government also needs to set in motion policies that will protect all endangered species in the country. ‘‘We also enjoin the government to drastically enforce extant laws against capture and consumption of threatened
and endangered iconic wildlife. Specifically, we call on the Rivers State government to institute measures that will protect the scanty population of elephant and hippopotamus in the Andoni area, manatee and turtles in Ahoada, and Nile crocodile in the wetland swamps of the state. There is urgent need to convene stakeholder summit on mangrove to proffer conservation solution to declining mangrove biodiversity in the state. It is worthwhile to immediately declare wildlife hotspots in the Nigeria protected areas. It is not negotiable that we have to protect the earth if we want to protect the human species!’’
Head, Environment and Conservation Unit
CEHRD is a non-governmental organisation with its head office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. CEHRD was founded on 15th August, 1999. The organisation works in three thematic areas:- Human Rights and Governance, Environment and Conservation and Rural Health and Community Development. For more information, please check. www.cehrd.org.ng