The 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.
Opening the session, the Minister said: “Today’s meeting is 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 Ogoni communities who are affected every day by the devastating pollution.”
Convened by the Federal Ministry of Environment, the meeting will lead to the creation of a strategy and conservational plan for the restoration of mangroves in Ogoniland.
During the meeting, the conditions and methods for successful replantation and recovery of mangrove habitats were discussed.
At the meeting, international experts unfolded their experiences from around the world and their application to Ogoniland while 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 restorative efforts on mangrove ecosystems in Ogoniland, and pave way for healthy ecosystems with successful environmental remediation in areas affected by the pollution.
UNEP had found extensive damages on mangroves in Ogoniland when undertaking its 2011 Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland.
The report showed that the impact of oil on mangrove vegetation in land had been disastrous.
Impacts of the pollution varied from extreme stress to total destruction. In most of the affected 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.