Dr Joseph Onoja, Director, Technical Programmes, Nigerian Conservation Foundation(NCF), has advised that environmental considerations be factored into the nation’s recovery plans and strategies for post-COVID-19.
Onoja said in a statement issued by Mr Oladapo Soneye, the Head, Communications, NCF, in Abuja that any post-COVID-19 recovery plan that did not factor in environmental considerations might not have much impact.
He said that the environment served as a shock-absorber for many, especially the rural poor who were already the most vulnerable to climate change.
“The post-COVID-19 recovery plans and strategies should be seen as an opportunity to tackle not only the immediate effect of the pandemic but the impact of climate change that had been hanging over them before the COVID-19 era.’’
The NCF boss said government at all levels had to ensure that policies that would promote nature conservation were put in place.
He said that corporate organisations had to support nature conservation because the environment was the number one factor of production without which these organisations would not be able to produce or offer whatever service they had to offer.
“Communities and individuals also play vital roles as direct custodians of these wildlife by ensuring that their activities and actions do not impact wildlife negatively,’’ he said.
Onoja said that nature had created a delicate balance where wildlife played a critical role to the overall conducive living of mankind in the world.
“For instance, a Pangolin consumes over 70 million ants and termites in one year, saving a forest as large as 31 soccer fields. Imagine what will happen to mankind if 70 million ants and termites are unleashed on us.
“The critical role vultures play in ensuring that diseases do not spread by them cleaning up carcasses before they develop spores that will transmit infections such as Cholera, Botulism, etc.
“Or imagine how we will get our food if the incredible pollinators, bees disappear from nature.”
Speaking on strategies deployed to curb the spread of virus on nature conservation and biosafety, Onoja commended the government for banning the handling of wildlife and closing down illegal wildlife markets.
According to him, these are positive steps in the right direction, adding that the lockdown had tremendous impact on the environment.
“The level of air pollution has drastically reduced and the restricted movements is making wildlife reclaim areas where they were absent for a long time,’’ the NCF boss said.
He said that there was an ongoing global campaign tagged: “New Deal For Nature and People’’ .
According to him, the campaign is an opportunity to make ambitious global commitment to nature because it was the life-support system for humans and therefore, the component of people.
“The year 2020 has been termed the ‘Super Year for Nature’. It gives us an opportunity to pause and have a rethink of how we have been relating with nature, which invariably has impact on people.
He said there must be a paradigm shift where instead of humans looking at ourselves as apart from nature, would see ourselves as a part of nature.
“This will help us know that whatever happens to nature and our life support system, we will be the first to be impacted and heavily.
“Humans, anatomically and physiologically are the least equipped to live on earth and the earlier we realise that the safer it will be for us.
“We do not have furs to cover our bare skin, no claws and no tails. So, if we do not protect nature to protect us, nature will protect itself but at our detriment.
“This is the message humans need to hear to re-calibrate their thinking,’’ Onoja said.