female ecologist wins int’l funding for wetland restoration in Nigeria

GodGift Ifunanya
5 Min Read

Ms Anna Obi Akpe, a 23-year-old lady, has been selected as one of the 2024 Wetlands Restoration Stewards by two renowned international organisations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akpe is one of the seven selected for the 2024 wetlands restoration programme in the world.

Akpe, a graduate in plant and ecological studies, is also the first Nigerian ever chosen for such by the Youth in Landscapes Initiatives and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

The young lady, according to the GLF, would receive a grant of £5,000 among other supports to restore the degraded mangrove forests in the Esierebom community in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River.

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Akpe, who was visibly excited over the selection, told NAN on Wednesday that the restoration project on the coastal area of Nigeria would serve the ecosystem with a lot of benefits.

According to her, this will particularly address the loss of biodiversity in the area.

“Of course, we know there is a lot of degradation around there, and we intend to restore that area for a lot of benefits lost over the years.

“For the future generation that is to come, I think it’s a good thing to replenish and also restore whatever things have not existed in that habitat for a very long time,” she said.

The mangrove, according to her, is a biological hotspot, which houses a lot of living things – both the plants and the animals -,but which degradation has now driven away.

She regretted that a lot of organisms she grew up knowing were no longer in existence as a result of the loss of biodiversity induced by the degraded mangroves and other causes of climate change.

“I will give you an instant, even the periwinkle we had when I was growing up and my mom would cook for us, were noticeably, very big, but I don’t know if you have realised recently, of course, they are no longer as sizeable as they used to be.

“Long growth load is being affected as a result of the destruction that has taken place in this habitat, and it applies to every other organism that existed then.

“Just for us to keep all of these for future generations to come and see all we have seen over years, it is good enough to keep all of these,” Akpe added.

The ecologist asserted that the project would check flooding in the area, explaining that mangroves helps a lot to control floods and storm surges.

“We are also relating to flooding. If these mangroves are restored, it will help us to control flooding and storm surges because it is one of the benefits of why a mangrove needs to be preserved and conserved.”

Akpe, who is a member of the student-led Biodiversity Rescue Club Nigeria, said she was motivated to ecological conservation due to the high rate of biodiversity loss occasioned by degraded wetlands.

“I am mostly concerned about restoring the degraded environment and ecosystem. I gave you an instance of when I was growing up and the certain things that I saw, but which do not exist again. That was the main reason for me to think of restoration.

It was a big factor for me. It’s enough for us to revive and even replenish. In as much as we do certain things that we do,” she said.

The environmentalist, however, advocated more education on climate change among the public, backing the call to incorporate climate education into the curriculum of both elementary and secondary schools in Nigeria.

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