Concern growing as Niger Delta rainforest, others disappear

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A key report just released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a United Nations agency, shows that tropical forests, including those in the Niger Delta, the Nigeria’s polluted oil and gas industry are rapidly disappearing.

the Niger Delta The lowland rainforest is among the complex ecological zones of the oil region with respect to species diversity.

According to some researchers, the rainforest zone is characterized by tall trees (1st layer/stratum which is characterized by thick/dense forest with smooth-barked trees about 40-50 meters tall and often epiphytes and vines are attached to the back of the tree), tall canopy trees (2nd layer/stratum which are tall branching plants, 20-35 meters tall and can provide shade), lower trees with bare trunks (3rd layer/stratum which are plants about 20 meters tall) and 4th layer which areas with mosses, small-stemmed shrubs, lichens, grasses and ferns) (4th layer/stratum).

The vegetation found in the rainforest is primarily used for timber, firewood, sawn timber, particle board, pulp/paper, poles and traditional medicine and some of the commonly found species include Khaya ivorensis, Guarea thompsonii, Entandophragma cylindricum, Entandrophragma angolense, Lovoa trichilioides, Gossweilerodendron balsamiferum, Milicia excelsa, Terminalia ivorensis, Triplochiton scleroxylon and Terminalia superba.30

The oil and gas region of Nigeria, according to those more knowledgeable about it, has several ecosystems that play a vital role in sustaining the various habitats and life forms in the region.

Some of the notable ecosystems include freshwater swamp forest, lowland rainforest, mangrove forest, etc. In recent times, the rate of deforestation, overhunting of wildlife, bush burning and intensive agricultural practices have increased in the region.

Previously, a study reviewed the potentials and threats of the Niger Delta ecosystem. The study found that the rate of deforestation and other human activities in the region is impacting the various ecosystems in the oil-looted region.

These impacts affect the biodiversity of the area, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc. regarding species diversity and population status.

In addition, other roles played by the various ecosystems including source of medicinal plants, spawning ground for fishing, breeding and nesting of migratory birds, coastal protection, wildlife habitats, among others are strongly threatened.

Therefore, there is a need to improve the application and monitoring of the various international and national legislation concerning the conservation and protection of biodiversity.

Interestingly, the rate at which forests are disappearing, according to the FAO, slowed by almost 30% between the first decade of the century and the period 2010-2018.

Yet the planet’s tropical rainforests are still the most threatened, whether from livestock grazing in South America or the expansion of croplands such as oil palm plantations in Asia.

Annual deforestation has fallen by around 29% – from 11 million hectares per year in the decade 2000-2010 to 7.8 million hectares per year in the period 2010-2018 – according to the Global Forest Resources Assessment remote sensing survey.

Net forest area losses more than halved over the survey period, from 6.8 million hectares per year in 2000-2010 to 3.1 million hectares per year in 2010-2018 .

By region, the highest deforestation from 2000 to 2018 occurred in South America (68 million hectares deforested), followed by Africa (49 million hectares).

This is despite the fact that the rate of deforestation actually slowed in South America as it did in South and Southeast Asia between 2000-2010 and 2010-2018.

The loss of tropical forests accounted for more than 90% of global deforestation from 2000 to 2018, at 157 million hectares, roughly the size of Western Europe.

However, annual deforestation in the tropical domain has actually slowed considerably, from 10.1 million hectares per year in 2000-2010 to 7 million hectares per year over the period 2010-2018.

Deputy Director General of FAO, Maria Helena Semedosaid “This survey is important, not only for the new numbers it gives us, but also for what it tells us about trends in forest area and the causes of deforestation, as well as for the crucial ability that it allows us to follow the evolution of things.

“Unsustainable agricultural development and other land uses continue to put intense pressure on our forests, especially in many of the poorest countries. But there are win-win solutions that we can and must scale up to feed the world without destroying our forests.

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