BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT POTENTIALS AND CHALLENGES

Introdution

From the hot semi-arid deserts of Maiduguri, through the lush green rainforest of Akwa Ibom, to the ocean depth and bright corals in Lagos, more to talk of the cold mountainous landscape in Jos. our natural world is a marvel of landscape(serene), materials, colors and textures. The land, air and sea of our country Nigeria are home to the tiniest insect to the largest animal , which mark up the rich tapestry of interconnecting and interdependent forces.

This is life, this is Biodiversity.

Biodiversity found on earth today consist of many millions of distinct biological species, the products of four billion years of evolution. However, the word “biodiversity” is relatively new, and is thought to have first been coined as a contraction of the term “biological diversity” in 1985. “Biodiversity refers to the comprehensive umbrella term for the degree of natures variety or variation within the natural system; both in number and frequency. In general, it refers to the variety of all forms of life on earth. The different plants, animals, micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form”

But it is unfortunate as in recent scientific reports a fast rate of extinction of both flora and fauna. This essay is written to bring to the notice of government,agencies, NGOs and every concern citizens of Nigeria of the gradual death of our biodiversity, our survival depends on the abundance and health of this biodiversity. if nothing is done to prevent and reduce the rate of biodiversity depletion/extinction through national sustainable conservation methods, the impact will be fatal and may take years to recover what is lost. :”So, let’s make hare while the sunshines”.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Nigeria is rich in biodiversity. This country is blessed with a variety of flora and fauna. There are about 7,895 plant species, 22,000 vertebrates and invertebrates species. All of these animal and plant species occur in different numbers within the country’s vegetation. A comprehensive survey of the wildlife situation in Nigeria in 1962 showed a drastic reduction in the quantity of wildlife when compared to neighbouring countries, a trend associated to human activities including excessive wildlife exploitation, uncontrolled timber operation, urban expansion and bush burning. Fast isn’t always good. Species are becoming extinct at the fastest rate known in geological history. Not only in Nigeria, generally global fauna and flora is at a very critical risk.

In Nigeria despite the obvious pressure on the ecosystem, especially on the fauna(animal), Nigeria possesses mammalian fauna of over 247 species. Most of these animal species are located in the wildlife conservation areas of the country. About 5% of Nigeria total area is reserved for this purpose. With this efforts, both the higher and lower animal species are fast reducing in quantity especially in the dry land of Sahel savanna. The Sudan savanna, apart from providing food and fodder for grazing livestock, also has a huge supply of wildlife, until recently when these resources were depleted.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

The Biodiversity of an area influences every aspect of the lives of people who inhabit it. Their living space and their livelihoods depend on the type of ecosystem. Even people living in urban areas are dependent on the ecological services provided by the wilderness in the places like Sokoto, or the swamp in Kogi or the fresh fish from Calabar river, all of these are equally important. More importantly is the impact of biodiversity in agriculture, it is the backbone of our life. Imagine the world without food. Functioning ecosystems to support life, if we do not pay attention to preserving Nigeria’s biodiversity, there is nothing “sustainable” about development. Agricultural biodiversity, in particular, can improve productivity and nutrition, enhance livelihoods to thousands of Nigeria’s rural farmers, respond to environmental challenges and deliver food security.

THE CHALLENGES FACING THE SUSTAINANCE OF BIODIVERSITY

The diversity of culture(with over 250 tribes) has considerable impact on biodiversity utilization and the level of protection. Natural and man-made threats have negatively affected biodiversity.

Threats to Biodiversity

  1. Habitat loss and destruction
  2. Alterations in ecosystems composition
  3. Invasive alien species
  4. Over exploitation
  5. Pollution and contamination
  6. Global climate change

Problems that include a lack of good and biological and sociological data and an inability to access the data that does exist make adequate preservation and sustainable use of these natural assets a challenge.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIALS OF BIODIVERSITY?

Many environmental issues are international in character and addressing them requires the development of regional and global perspectives. Securing the conservation of biodiversity while at the same time promoting sustainable economic development is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Ways of achieving these twin goals are becoming the focus of increasing attention, particularly within the conservation and development communities.

  1. Agriculture Importance -biodiversity is important to agriculture. All modern crop varieties were originally produced using land races developed by famers around the world from wild plants over 1000 of years.
  2. Biodiversity and the survival of Nigeria -for Nigerians and indeed Africans, biodiversity is of vital importance to our survival,this is because our livelihood is dependent on having free open access to a great variety of biological resources for food,fibre,fuel,medicines, housing materials and economic security.
  3. Biodiversity in commerce and industry -The contributions of biodiversity to commerce and modern industrial processes are immense. Timber has remained the biggest wild contributor to industry with a world trade of US $ 40 billion per year, well ahead of second ranked fishery products worth US $ 12 billion per year (WWF undated).
  4. Aesthetic value - human beings derive enjoyment from natural environment.The shapes, structure and color stimulate our senses and enrich our culture. This is illustrated majorly in the popularity of biodiversity conservation measures and the myriad of many organization which fight for the protection of different organism. Save guarding this endowment should be everyone’s primary concern.