One of the primary responsibilities given to man in the beginning, according to the Bible book of Genesis, was to care for the environment. As humans evolved and multiplied, the strain of our presence was felt by the earth. That was why in 1972, the United Nations held its first international conference on environmental issues and June 5th was designated as the World Environment Day. Since then, we have prioritised how countries can collectively come together to preserve the earth through environmental awareness.
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We cannot overemphasise the interdependency of man and his physical environment. That’s because in the entire cosmos, only earth in the Milky Way galaxy can support life as we know it. The concept of the ‘circle of life’ is not a Walt Disney construct for selling an animation. It is an ecosystem reality of how interconnected every specie on earth is and how important it is for our shared survival. But with a million species on the brink of extinction, there isn’t a better time to focus on biodiversity than now. That’s why the 2020 World Environment Day’s theme is Biodiversity.
Caring for the environment is not only for survival, but it’s key to any nation longing to be a nature-focused tourist destination (i.e. an eco-tourism hotspot). One way to do so is by having lots of land and marine areas as nature conservation centres. These are places where nature can thrive as intended, with a wide range of biodiversity. Nigeria happens to be quite rich in biodiversity. We have species diversity (both genetic and animal) and habitats/ecosystem diversity (e.g. Sahel savannah in the north, rain forests in the south).
From Forest Reserves and Game Parks to National Parks and Conservation Centres, Nigeria is full of places dedicated to preserving biodiversity. The most popular is the Lekki Conservation Centre in Lagos. Its popularity is closely followed by the likes of Yankari National Park and Game Reserve in Bauchi, Becheve Nature Reserve on the Obudu Plateau and the Cross River National Park in Cross River state. These places are filled with a wide variety of flora and fauna species. Even our security challenges as a nation have brought to fore the fact that we have a lot of these nature reservation areas. E.g. Sambisa forest in Borno State, Balmo Forest in Bauchi & Jigawa State, Idu and Gwagwa Forest reserves in Abuja, Kamuku National park in Kaduna amongst others.
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With domestic tourism slowly making its way among the Nigerian youths, we are becoming a crop of environmentally concious people. With each adventure and ecotourist activity embarked on by tourists domestically, we are developing an appreciation and awareness of our environment. Already, Beach clean up is now a voluntourist activity in Nigeria championed by youths and children. That’s why this year, it is important we join the conversation on the preservation of biodiversity in our country.
Lately, there have been dead aquatic animals washing up ashore in Nigeria. Such as Humpback whales, African manatees, and even the recent dead Croaker fishes that washed up ashore on Bonny Island some months ago. There is an urgent need for Nigeria’s active participation in global environmental conservation efforts. Due to the onging pandemic, we may not be able to organize global citizens’ events. However, we can join the conversation on world environment day using the hashtag #ForNature. You can also sign up for the #ForNature Global Online Forum or take a biodiversity quiz to learn more on the subject.
Ijeomah, Henry. (2017). Tourism and Terrorism in the Contemporary World: Ecodestinations of Nigeria in perspective. Researchgate.net
World Environment Day/UNESCO.org
Featured Image Source: EcoTourism Kenya
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