From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
To ensure continuity in every living organisms, including the totality of life forms, a non governmental organization, Centre for Environment and Human Rights Development (CEHRD), has urged the government of Rivers state and national to make sustainable policies that will conserve and preserve the biodiversity.
The call was made by CEHRD Coordinator, Prof Nenibarini Zabbey, at a policy dialogue on Biodiversity Audit held in Port Harcourt over the weekend.
Speaking on the need for biodiversity audit in Rivers State and across Niger Delta region, Prof Zabbey noted that the audit “will collate all the available data held by a range of local and national organizations to quantify the variety of habitats and species present in the area”.
Noting the alarming loss of biodiversity in the region following the level of environmental degradation from pollution, CEHRD Coordinator, stressed that to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is definite need to protect, conserve and restore biodiversity.
He said that the group gathered academicians, civil society groups, environmentalists and other government officials to dialogue on how best to save the environment from further degradation through the preservation of the biodiversity.
He said: “We gathered the environmental society, the civil society, the academie and all those who are interested in preserving, conserving and restoring the biodiversity of Rivers State and the Niger Delta to know the fundamentals of conservation, of restoration so that in the process of making sustainable laws which is the responsibility of the state House of Assembly, they would be able to make informed contribution to the process, ensuring that those laws will be sustainable enough to protect the degrading biodiversity of the state in order to achieve sustainable development in the state.
“It is the responsibility of the government to protect lives and property. And when we say lives and properties, we are talking of all life forms including human lives, all other biodiversity and of course human existence is dependent on biodiversity, without biodiversity there will be no human being because biodiversity include the food we eat, the crops, the plants, the animals in the environment. And so without those species it will be impossible for human to exist.
“So, it is the duty of the government to protect the entire biodiversity components, which includes other life forms aside humans.
“Government should come up with sustainable policies and legislations that will protect biodiversity. What that means is that every development efforts of both government or private sector or communities must take into consideration the protection, the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, that is the responsibility of the government”, Zabbey urged.
Zabbey added that sustainable development is good but development that is not compatible with the biodiversity is dangerous.
Speaking with The AUTHORITY, Dr Kingsley Nwobidi, Chairman, Nigerian Environmental Society, Rivers State chapter, commended CEHRD for putting up the programme, stressing that “If programmes like this are held repeatedly and this consciousness of environmental biodiversity conservation and preservatives is in imbibe in us, it will go a long way in helping the environment by preserving the natural resources”.
He added “We can appeal to the public, talk to them and let them know the right way to behave to save the biodiversity in the area”.
On his part, Prof Suanu Deekae, lecturer with Fishery and Acquastic Environment Department, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, said “This programme is actually unique, though we had to talk about a very different aspect of biodiversity, which is diversity audit”.
Prof Deekae assured that “As a teacher, each time I am teaching when it comes to this topic I will look at what I have learnt and stress on the importance of biodiversity which is all about life itself and interaction of all living organisms, even the components that is not living, there is interaction.
“Another aspect of it is advocacy, we need to teach our children and we ourselves must defend biodiversity. When it comes to some certain laws which we don’t like we will defend it.
“When laws are being made either in the national or state Assembly and they call for interest group we will represent ourselves and make our views known to the public on our standing in the protection of biodiversity” he added.