Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRCC), has a project on public education, participatory learning, restoration and sustainable management of the Niger Delta mangroves adopting the participatory/citizen science approach. Nigeria has extensive mangrove forests in the coastal region of the Niger Delta, considered one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in the world. About 70% of the Nigerian mangrove ecosystem falls within the Niger Delta region. The Niger Delta is located in the Atlantic coast of Southern Nigeria and cuts across nine states. The site falls under the Niger Delta wetlands region of Nigeria, Considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The mangrove swamp of Niger Delta covers an area of is considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The Niger Delta basin occupies the Gulf of Guinea continental margin in equatorial West Africa, between latitudes 3° and 6° N and longitudes 5° and 8° E.). Niger Delta mangroves together with the creeks and rivers are a major source of food and livelihood for millions of people ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_Delta_mangroves). The Niger Delta mangroves perform all four categories of ecosystem services identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Services report: regulating, provisioning, cultural, and supporting services. These include atmospheric and climate regulation, flood and erosion control, wood and forest crops for cooking fuel, construction, and traditional medicine, nutrient cycling, and habitat for fish nurseries. This ecosystem also plays important role in climate change mitigation because of its high blue carbon sequestration potential. This is particularly important because of continuous gas flaring in Niger Delta from petroleum operations, which releases carbon dioxide among other gases into the atmosphere. Mangroves constitute important nurseries for fishes, crustaceans, sponges, algae and other invertebrates, and also acts as a sink, retaining pollutants from contaminated tidal water. Mangroves are also used as shelter and breeding grounds by mammals, shore birds, reptiles, many insects etc. Unfortunately, this unique ecosystem is on the decline and at the verge of been totally lost. Mangrove forests are affected by oil exploration/exploitation activities, some portions converted to farmlands and the trees are cut for timber, fuel, house construction and so on without restoring. Consequently, many coastal communities in the Niger Delta are losing their lives and primary livelihoods due to increased vulnerability to floods as a result of the disappearance of mangroves which usually serve as defense in times of coastal flooding. They are also now exposed to the high intensity of sunlight and heat waves as the land lay bare of trees to regulate sun rays. Therefore, there is urgent need to restore/conserve the mangroves of the Niger Delta region. This project entails a pilot in one of the Niger Delta states and will involve community/public education, participatory learning, restoring of degraded portions, local capacity building in conservation practices, experience sharing, data collection, development of management plans and policy review. It would improve methods and technologies that support the sustainable use of biological resources, identify, promote and support suitable livelihood alternatives among key mangrove dependent. Here links on mangroves which can help one learn more about importance of mangroves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwTZhyA57mA; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-54241533 Objectives: The objectives of this project are: 1. To ensure sustainable mangrove ecosystem management that encourages community-based participation. 2. To ensure restoration, conservation and management of mangrove wood and non-wood resources on a sustained yield basis; developing effective measures for protection and/or rehabilitation of mangrove ecosystems; mitigating climate change effects in the process. 3. To ensure management and protection of mangrove areas for fisheries, erosion control, coastal stabilization and biodiversity conservation; intensifying the protective function of the mangrove forest along riverbanks, estuaries, and all other marginal forestlands, 4. To increase public awareness and education on the benefits of the mangrove forests; consolidate existing mangrove information and make it available in forms which are meaningful and accessible. 5. To strengthen capacities of the institutions/stakeholders responsible for mangrove management. 6. To promote research and education on conservation and management of mangrove and associated ecosystem. 7. To facilitate partnerships and networking among mangrove dependent communities, private enterprises/companies operating in mangrove communities and the government in order to promote and ensure best practices. The pilot will help strengthen local communities and livelihoods: • Education programmes and outreach to increase knowledge of mangrove conservation (targeting up to 100,000) • Trainings to improve skills in sustainable mangrove ecosystem management (targeting about 10,000 wood/timber harvesters, farmers, fishermen) • Indirect employment opportunities (targeting about 10 000 returning fishermen and 5000 women for the collection of aquatic produce – fish, crabs, shrimps,oysters etc – to increase food security and economic resilience. . Tropical Research and Conservation Centre' (TRCC): Tropical Research and Conservation Centre' (TRCC) is a nongovernmental organization which focuses on sustainable agriculture, environmental resources conservation, community livelihoods and indigenous resources preservation. The organization was founded in 2001, as a result of the founder's concern for rural dwellers and the sustainable use of natural resources. For more information about organisation please visit the site: www.tropicalconservationcentre.org Thank you, Ikponke Nkanta, Project Manager, Tropical Research and Conservation Centre(TRCC). Office address: 41 Oron Road , Uyo, Akwa Ibom State , Nigeria www.tropicalconservationcentre.org Phone:+234 80 675 96 435; E mail: info@tropicalconservationcentre.org;ikponkenkanta@yahoo.com US Referee: Dr Fernando Potess ,Director, People Resources and Conservation Foundation,USA 255 Ivyhurst Circle, Amherst,New York 14226-3417, USA, www.prcfoundation.org Phone:+1-213 4780484, E mail:fpotess.prcf@gmail.com, info@prcfoundation.org
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