The survival of man depends on land and the ecosystem. To ensure that life on land is preserved and kept safe for both humans and animals, environmental menace, land degradation, deforestation and pollution of all kinds must be checked. This is why everyone has to work towards achieving the goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: To protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
SDG 15, simply referred to as ‘Life on Land’, targets preserving diverse forms of life on land. This requires promoting the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystem resources. This is not only critical for human lives, but also imperative to preserve the lives of animal species such as amphibians, birds and mammals that are on the verge of extinction. Environmental activities by humans that also affect the safety of life on land, especially for animas include poaching, and trafficking of wildlife.
Land and Forest are important resources that sustain life on land. However in Nigeria, these resources are depleting due to land degradation, deforestation and pollution. These depleting factors arise due to over-use and inappropriate use of technologies and urbanization. In fact, Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment records show that major factors that cause land degradation include deforestation resulting from multiple uses of forest resources for human survival (e.g. fuel wood and energy, housing etc.), poaching and mineral exploration(Mining). The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) also recorded that in the first half of the year 2007 a total of 424 spill incidents involving 33,799 barrels of oil. Hence, the resultant heat stress and acid rain continues to degrade the ecosystem. As a result, we are constantly exposed to the hazards of highly polluted gaseous and dust emissions from industries and vehicles and dangerous industrial wastes that are constantly being discharged into the environment.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Environment and the United Nations have both made several efforts to ensure that life on land is secured in Nigeria as well as globally. However, these efforts can be aided if everyone can likewise promote activities that conserve and ensure sustainable use of land and forest resources. For example, The Great Green Wall Program, is a Pan African Initiative which is set up to address land degradation and desertification, boost food security and support communities to adapt to climate change in the Sahel-Sahara region of Africa while the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) was set-up by Nigeria Ministry of Environment with the aid of the World Bank, to respond to the gully erosion and degradation challenges that was plaguing the country as at 2010.
Also, to mitigate the glaring cases of deforestation and conserve endangered species in the Niger Delta region, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a project being executed by the Niger Delta Biodiversity Conservation Project in collaboration with community members who play crucial roles in the conservation and protection of forests as they are the custodians of natural resources, living around the forests and relying on the land to provide food, medicines, and energy for their subsistence. More so, The Niger Delta Biodiversity Project (NDBP) an initiative of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) carried out some activities, among which is the implementation of Community Biodiversity Action Plan (CBAP), within four Niger Delta states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers, which were captured in the five-year biodiversity conservation program which commenced in 2014. These and many more efforts have been made by the Nigerian government and the United Nations System to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal15.
However, it is important to re-emphasize the need for commitment from everyone to promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial resources through simple activities such as planting for trees, desisting from poaching, avoiding bush burning and illicit oil exploration.
Written by Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)