7 June 2006

Nigeria: N. Delta Loses 21,340 Hectares of Mangrove to Oil Exploration - Experts

Abuja — NIGER Delta has recorded an estimated 21,340 hectares of mangrove loss due to rapid urbanization, oil and gas exploration, a study has shown.

The 15-year study by relevant expert said the "less includes 5681.85, 6450.73 and 9209.05 hectares in the Northwest, South west and South east segments of the region.

A total mangrove loss of 21,340 hectares has been recorded in Niger-Delta after fifteeen to seventeen years of study by relevant experts. The loss is made up of 5681.85 hectares from the northwest segment, 6450.73 hectares from the Southwest segment and 9209.05 hectares from the southwest.

Mangrove is recognized worldwide as one of the most productive and ecologically diverse ecosystems. Hundreds of coastal communities in the Nigeria-Delta derive their livelihoods directly from the mangrove forests along the creeks and river channels in the region.

Disclosing the result of a collaborative study of the University of Missouri- Kansas City (UMKC) U.S.A and National Space Research and Development Agency (NARSDA) in Abuja, yesterday, Dr. Jimmy.O. Adegoke of the Department of Geosciences, UMKC, said the critical natural resources in the (mangrove) has to be maintained and sustained for the survival of the people, even as he warned against nonchallant attitude to the plight of people in the Niger-Delta for peace in the region.

Identifying the major causes of mangrove loss to rapid urbanization, land clearing for oil and gas exploration, production and overland pipeline transportation, NYPA palm invasion and displacement of mangrove from the creeks; and local extraction of mangrove tree products by the local communities for use as fire-woods, Dr. Adegoke said his institution was ready to work with NARSDA in investigating more of the environmental changes that have taken place in the region and their socio-economic drivers and implications using geospatial (remote sensing and EIS) techniques and socio-economics data in an integrated framework.

Speaking earlier, the Director-General of NARSDA, Prof. Robert Ajayi Boffofice said for a meaningful result of the project, " we have to get all stakeholders to work with us." in order to restore the needs of the entire Niger-Delta.

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