The Lagos State Government has warned against any behaviour that can endanger the preservation of wetlands in the state. The Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said all residents must work with the government to balance the growth of a strong economy with a development path that would allow the safety of the natural environment. Bello spoke on Friday in Ikeja, Lagos, while hosting students from primary and secondary schools in the state for the 2015 observance of the World Wetland Day.

The event, tagged, ‘Wetlands for our future-join us,’ also featured musical performances and drama presentations from the participants and a lecture by an academic, Dr. J.I. Agboola of the Faculty of Science, Lagos State University, Ojo. Bello, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Ministry of the Environment, Hakeem Ogunbambi, explained that wetlands were very important in the state.

He said, “Wetlands are natural buffer zones which cushion the effect of climate change through the God-given mechanism for regulating flood. They provide irrigation for agriculture and maintain the alluring ecosystem. Wetlands also ensure fresh water for human needs, guarantee food supply, as well as replenish groundwater. “While we recognise the vital role our wetlands play, it is essential that we also direct our focus on the many threats they face. Most of our wetlands are faced with pollution, eutrophication, loss of peat lands due to erosion, bastardisation through illegal refuse dumps and sewage discharge.

“Consequently, it is likely that much of the heavy metal pollutants stored in the peat for the past century will be released into the water bodies, with severe implications for the downstream users.” He said 30 wetlands had been identified in the state and had been earmarked for conservation. While citing a study on the depletion of wetlands in the Apapa area of the state, Bello urged the youth to be agents of change and ensure the preservation of wetlands.

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