By: Bamidele Fashube
MOHAMMAD Mahmood, the Minister of Environment says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of 10 additional National Parks to add up to the existing seven parks under the management of the National Park Service (NPS).
He disclosed this during a briefing held at the Green Building recently in Abuja. The media briefing was also an opportunity to inform the public on the ministry’s proactive efforts ahead of the second wave of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID).
The first national park in the country, Kanji Lake was created in 1979.
The existing parks are the Kamuku National Park in Kaduna State; Kanji Lake National Park, Niger and Kwara states; Gashaka-Gumti National Park, Adamawa and Taraba states and the Chad Basin National Park, Borno and Yobe states.
Others are Okomu National Park in Edo state; Cross River National Park, Cross River state and Old Oyo National Park, Oyo state.
However, details of the new National Parks are as follows:
S/N NAME OF FOREST RESERVE NAME OF NATIONAL PARK AREA (km2) STATE
- Allawa Game Reserve Allawa National Park 310 km2 Niger
- Apoi Forest Reserve Apoi National Park 64.77 km2 Bayelsa
- Edumenum Forest Reserve Edumenum National Park 86.76 km2 Bayelsa
- Falgore Game Reserve Falgore National Park 920 km2 Kano
- Hadeja Wetland Game Reserve Hadeja Wetland National Park 320 km2 Jigawa
- Kampe Forest Reserve Kampe National Park 652.86 km2 Kwara
- Kogo Forest Reserve Kogo National Park 212.66 km2 Katsina
- Marhai Forest Reserve Marhai National Park 54.00 km2 Nasarawa
- Oba Hill Forest Reserve Oba Hills National Park 52.5 km2 Osun
- Pandam Forest Reserve Pandam National Park 244 km2 Plateau
The Minister said an Executive Bill would be presented to the National Assembly (NASS) to give legal backing to the initiative.
National Parks are areas reserved and managed for conservation of wildlife and natural resources. The Parks contain rich and diverse varieties of ##rare endangered species like Elephants, Gorillas, Giraffes, Monkeys, Golden Cats, Hippopotami, crocodiles etc and a host of plant species.
The park service involves surveillance, patrolling, checking illegal activities of poachers in the Parks, enforcement of relevant international treaties and conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory. They also engage in public enlightenment on the protection and conservation of plants and animals, assisting researchers and searching, arresting and prosecuting offenders.
Benefits of the National Parks include the protection of life support systems such as watersheds and water catchment areas.
“The creation of additional National Parks in Nigeria has become imperative in view of the prevailing effects of climate change across the globe. This action is geared towards the United Nation’s policy of placing 25% of its member countries’ landmass under permanent vegetation cover for carbon sequestration to mitigate the effects of climate change and ameliorate other ecological challenges. It may interest you to note that Nigeria currently has 6.7% of her total landmass under vegetation cover which is grossly inadequate in line with global best practices,” the minister said.
“The creation of these Parks will no doubt, further create more employment opportunities, alleviate poverty in rural areas and ultimately enhance the country’s revenue profile especially now that Nigeria is seeking to diversify her economy.”
Speaking on insecurity, Mahmood identified the inability of State governments to manage state-owned forest reserves, thus contributing to banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping among other forms of insecurity.
This, among others, were partly reasons for the establishment of the new national parks.
The Federal Ministry of Environment, Agriculture & Natural Resources and Interior are to partner to ensure the project becomes reality.
On the new surge in COVID-19 spread, Mahmood announced the ministry had commenced Terminal Environmental Decontamination/Disinfection of premises where COVID-19 cases have been recorded.
“You will recall that the Ministry, being one of the Line COVID-19 Response Ministries, proactively mobilized the general public at the inception of the infections earlier this year, towards understanding the nature, mode of spread and control measures. In the whole, maintenance of sterility of Premises, Containments, Dwellings, Offices is the main objective of the Ministry’s Decontamination/Disinfection intervention in order for their users to be safeguarded from letting in the Virus and other microbes into their systems.
“It is once more necessary to re-echo the need for Nigerian Citizens to adhere strictly to provisions of the COVID-19 control protocol as the main barriers of the virus spread. To this end, Hand hygiene, Respiratory hygiene, Avoidance of crowd, Physical distancing as well as terminal and concurrent decontamination/disinfection must continue to be adopted by all and sundry.
“It is my firm conviction that decontamination/disinfection as acclaimed by international standards is contributing immensely to the containment of the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.”
The minister, however, appealed to Nigerians to embrace safe utilization of decontamination formulations and administration by engaging only licensed environmental health practitioners for decontamination/disinfection services as an efficient non-pharmaceutical Corona control measure.
He restated the Ministry’s resolve to supporting FG’s coordinated response to the Pandemic.