Here is our 2nd place EMEND World Environment Day 2020 Essay Competition. It is written by 300 Level Student Boluwatife Faturoti of the University of Ibadan.
Her scores were as follows;
Stage 1: 77
Stage 2: 69
Final Stage: 2nd position
When I think of Nigeria, the word ‘Diversity’ aptly comes to mind and captures the nature of the country. From its rich cultural diversity to its ethnic diversity and down its diverse variation of living organisms between species of the ecosystem such as its terrestrial, marine, and aquatic ecosystem– referred to as ‘biodiversity’. With over 7,895 plant species, 20,000 insects, 1000 birds, 1000 fishes, 247 mammals, 123 reptiles, and about 1,489 micro-organisms species identified, Nigeria is truly biologically diversified.
Over time, there has been a decrease in the country’s biological diversity as a result of different factors such as; Deforestation due to agricultural expansion, overgrazing, and commercial logging; Coastal zone degradation through activities of artisanal and industrial fishing, and water pollution such as oil spillages; Wildlife management through hunting activities; and Land degradation through activities such as wild bushfires. All which have led to a need for biodiversity conservation.
Nigeria is in dire need of development, however, when addressing development, little attention is paid to biodiversity conservation. This is mostly premised on the assumption that biodiversity conservation is of little benefit to National development. In rebutting this, thepotentials, challenges, and possible solutions on how biodiversity conservation can lead to National development will be examined in this essay.
2.1 Poverty Alleviation: Poverty alleviation is one of the core development goals of Nigeria and at the same time one of the factors contributing to biodiversity loss. This is because the livelihood of poor people, who live in rural areas, is largely dependent on their natural environment. This can be seen in the cutting of trees for fuel use which leads to deforestation, slash-and-burn which leads to depletion of nutrients and organic matter in soil and hunting of wildlife. Biodiversity conservation can help in reducing poverty in different ways such as taking a bioregional approach which would lead to afforestation and nursery development, which can provide significant employment opportunities for the poor. Also, ecotourism would involve the active involvement of local people which can provide economic benefit to the community and provide a source of employment to the poor.
2.2 Hunger Alleviation: Hunger alleviation is another core development goal in Nigeria that can be reduced by biodiversity conservation. It is crucial to note that biodiversity plays an important role in food security. Biodiversity conservation can help improve crop yield, the income of farmers, guarantee access to markets, reduce the vulnerability of crops to death and pressure, and improve soil texture and fertility. All of which will help in creating food security and reducing hunger.
2.3Health: As of 2010, Nigeria had identified about 7,895 plant species some of which are threatened and many are still yet to be identified. Natural products especially plants serve as a source for most drugs. To conserve biodiversity and promote national development in the health sector, resources and adequate attention should be paid to Biological resources in terms of health care provisions such as medical and pharmaceutical drugs. This would benefit the nation greatly.
2.4Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation: It is without a doubt that climate change has been an issue of concern that has already led to ecological destabilization and alteration of the vegetation belt especially on the northern side, rainfall pattern has enhanced wind erosion/desertification, soil erosion, and coastal flooding. Depletion in the ecosystem and species extinction will gradually reduce the capacity to respond to future stress such as climate change. With biodiversity conservation, the vulnerability of Nigeria to the effect of climate change can be reduced through afforestation and reforestation, the enlightenment of the public on hazards of climate change due to activities such as bush burning, oil spillages in water should be guarded against and deforestation should be discouraged. All these will help to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effect while improving environmental sustainability.
2.5 Economic Benefit: Several economic benefits can be derived from biodiversity conservation if properly exploited. In the first quarter of 2020, the Agricultural sector contributed 21.96% to the GDP and recorded a growth rate of 2.20%, which is lower than the growth rate of 2019. This is as a result of different factors. However, a deliberate effort by the government to conserve biodiversity will lead to an increase in the agricultural products that are sold locally and internationally, which could generate more revenue for the economy. Also, ecotourism can generate income for the economy, provide employment opportunities, and attract foreigners.
3.1 Lack of Proper Implementation of Laws and Policies A plethora of policies and legislation have been made and conventions signed. However, due to the lack of proper implementation and execution of those laws and policies, they have been ignored. This has made it difficult for biodiversity conservation to be achieved.
3.2 Inadequate funding: Funding is needed to develop and implement plans. However, there has been inadequate funding with regards to Biodiversity conservation. Inadequate budget allocation is given to Biodiversity conservation which has also led to a lack of human capacities such as researchers and equipment.
3.3 Institutional weakness: There is a weakness in the institutions. Issues such as mismanagement of funds, corruption, lack of researchers and skilled manpower, lack of appropriate equipment, and technologies have bedeviled the institutions.
3.4 Lack of awareness, especially in rural areas, on the need to conserve biodiversity is a constant challenge that needs to be addressed.
4.0 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
4.1 Implementation of old policies and New Policies: Implementation of existing policies on biodiversity conservation should be made paramount and new policies that focus on biodiversity conservation and national development should be made. For example, policies on information and education of the public, especially those in the rural areas should be made. This will make achieving national development easier.
4.2 Financial Support: The government should increase the budget allocated to biodiversity conservation. Also, there should be leverage on International and local funding. For instance, regarding climate change and biodiversity conservation Nigeria can leverage on financial instruments available such as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Climate Investment Funds (CIF), and Carbon Finance (CF). This will lead to proper implementation of goals such as building ecotourism which would help in poverty alleviation.
4.3 Environmental Impact Assessment: When industries want to engage in activities that would lead to loss of biodiversity, analysis of the effect of the activity should be done. They would then have to provide ways of replenishing the loss. For instance, companies who partake in deforestation, e.g. timber for industrial and commercial purposes are mandated to either engage in the planting of new trees or pay a particular monetary sum to be used for other biodiversity conservation projects.
4.4 Ecotourism and Conservation Sites: Many forest reserves have been neglected, e.g. Sambisa forest reserve to Boko Haram hideout. By developing ecotourism and conservation sites, biodiversity will be conserved at the same time enhancing local income and produce sustainable development.
It is without a doubt that there are many opportunities to be exploited which biodiversity conservation can give to National Development. The challenges faced can be solved with the implementation of possible solutions.
 Koziell, I. & McNeill, C. (2002) Building on Hidden Opportunities to Achieve the Millennium Developmental Goals: Poverty Reduction through Conservative and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. WSSD Opinion Paper, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK
 Odjugo P.A.O. (2005) An Analysis of Rainfall Patterns in Nigeria. Global Journal of Environmental Sciences 4(2): 139-145
 Rietbergen, S., Bishop, J. & Mainka, S. (2002) Ecosystem Conservation: A Neglected Tool for Poverty Reduction. WSSD Opinion Paper, International Institute for Environment and Development, London, UK
 Nigerian Gross Product Report- Q1 2020, Nigerian Bureau of Statistics
Ayo Adeyemi is an alumnus of Ajayi Crowther university where she graduated with honours in History and International Studies. She further bagged a masters in international management from the prestigious University of Liverpool. She is an avid reader, pouring over books from diverse disciplines to gain more knowledge of the world and different societies; a hobby that triggered her interest in community development and safe environment advocacy, an area she aims to get people more informed about. Knowledgeable in marketing, project management and research, she aims to use these skills to bring a sustainable change within communities she finds her practice.
Emeraldscape Environmental Development (EMEND) is a non governmental organization set up to promote sustainable environmental culture, create awareness through the media, conferences, seminars and workshops on global environmental issues to ameliorate the impact of global warming.