By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–MINISTER of Environment, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has opened an International Expert Meeting on Mangrove Restoration in the Niger Delta, with special lessons for Ogoniland.
The minister, according to a statement by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Environment,Saghir el Mohammed, explained at the session, it was “a turning point for mangrove ecosystems in Ogoniland. “
“Using the knowledge and experience of the experts assembled here today, together, we will be able to restore the mangroves and improve the lives of the Ogoni communities who are affected every day by the devastating pollution,”he reportedly said.
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Convened by the Federal Ministry of Environment, the meeting will lead to the creation of a strategy and conservation plan for the restoration of mangroves in the Ogoniland.
“During the meeting, the conditions and methods for successful replantation and recovery of mangrove habitats were discussed,”the statement said.
It read further:”International experts provided their experiences from around the world and their application to Ogoniland. In addition, examples of successful mangrove restoration already taking place in Nigeria were provided.
“The meeting was attended by experts from more than 20 different institutions. It was supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Mangroves are not just ecologically significant but are critical to the livelihood and food security of communities in Ogoniland.
“It is hoped that the meeting will bring new momentum to the restoration efforts for mangrove ecosystems in Ogoniland, paving the way for healthy ecosystems and successful environmental remediation of areas affected by the pollution.”
It is worthy of note that UNEP found extensive damage to mangroves in Ogoniland when undertaking its 2011 Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland.
The report found that the impact of oil on mangrove vegetation in Ogoniland had been disastrous.
Impacts of the pollution varied from extreme stress to total destruction. In the most impacted areas, only the roots of the mangroves remain, with no stems or leaves. In many of these areas, the roots were completely coated in oil, sometimes with a 1 cm or more thick layer of bituminous substance.
Experts found that pollution has accumulated over a very long period.
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