‘How Oil Exploration, Global Warming Destabilise Niger Delta Ecosystem’

AS the Niger Delta forests faces two devastating monsters;
the Oil exploration and global warning threats,
occasioned by ‘Climate Change,’ the destabilization
of its ecosystem becomes inevitable.
Sad enough, its primary vegetation, ‘Mangrove forests,’
described by environmentalists and researchers, as a sole
stabilizing feature, existing as a safeguard, which protects
the system becomes a prey to the recurring and unguarded
exploration activities and the mitigating impacts of ‘Climate
Change, which today, boxed it to a corner choking
and gasping.’
Unfortunately, as the natural pillar or shelter, the Mangrove
forest, becomes prey to man-induced social exploitation
activities, especially, by his continuous deforestation
and emission of gaseous substances into the atmosphere
and environment, plus the oil pillage, resulting to air
pollution, acid rain, water pollution and other serious
environmental problems.
This The Pointer Environment learnt, impacted negatively
on the residents of the area and their forests, a fact,
which according to research, is facilitating the gradual
sinking of delta region.
Sad enough, as the recurring devastating impacts of
man-assisted environmental stresses metamorphosed
into unwelcomed playmates, (environmental-related
problems) which reportedly robbed the region its natural
beauty, thus, opening floodgate of rampaging flood actions,
as the forest recede and coastal erosion worsen.
Recently, a study published by the Community Research
and Development Centre of Nigeria contained the following
excerpt:
“The Niger Delta is highly susceptible to adverse environmental
changes occasioned by Climate Change, because
it is located in the coastal region of the world. Coastal regions
of the world are already experiencing flooding due
to the rise in sea level. Amid the impact of climatic change,
the region is also faced with myriads of environmental
problems resulting from oil exploration and exploitation
activities. Reports on the environmental state of the Niger
Delta are conclusive that the area has become an ecological
wasteland” (Uyigue et al,)
In an interview with the Nigeria Television Authority
(NTA) WEEKEND, monitored by The Pointer Environment,
in Asaba, the Director Forestry Conservation, Federal
Ministry of Environment, Mr. Dahiru Salisu, lamented the
rate at which the nation is losing its land and vegetation
to desertification, flooding and erosion (water and wind)
due to man’s activities, such as deforestation, emission of
gas, bush burning and others.
The effects of these activists, according to him, has impacted
on the nation’s environment negatively, especially,
in Niger Delta area, which is expose to acid rain which he
said, can lead to deforestation; causes acidification of lakes
and streams and contributes to the damage of buildings
and trees at high elevations.
The Pointer Environment learnt that tress elevation such
as the red spruce trees above 2,000 feet) and many sensitive
forest soils, is caused by the combination of sulphur
dioxide and nitrogen compounds with water in the atmosphere
to produce rain with a very low acidity (PH).
Normally, rainwater has a acidity (PH) of 6.5, making it slightly acidic. However,
with the addition of sulphur
and nitrogen compounds,
the PH of rain water may
drop to as low as 2.0 or
3.0, similar to the acidity
of vinegar, thus resulting
in the burning of the leaves
of the plants, poisoning of
aquatic habitants in lakes
and rivers.
In addition, acid rain accelerates
the decay of building
materials and paints, including
irreplaceable buildings,
statues, and sculptures
that are part of our nation’s
cultural heritage. Prior to
falling to the earth, sulfur
dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen
oxide (NO) gases and
their particulate matter
derivatives—sulfates and
nitrates—contribute to
visibility degradation and
harm public health
Delta residents have long
complained about how their
corrugated roofs have been
corroded by the composition
of the rain that falls as
a result of flaring.
Gas flaring in Niger Delta.
THE seemingly violation of the nation’s
forest by poachers, called for
emergency solution. In Delta State,
the situation is growing at alarming proportion,
as the suspects enjoy field day,
violating the forest, in the process, heightening
the cases of illegal logging, deforestation
and massive depopulation of wild
life and tree population, thus, paving way
for extinction of trees and animals.
This unguarded situation, as a matter
of fact, has exposed the forest to series
of violation, despite the presence of the
state forest guard men in the forest,
saddled with the responsibility to protect
the forest. Sad enough, this violation is
reportedly taking place daily, as heavily
loaded trucks are seen leaving the forests,
without interrogation, in the process causing
series of damages to wild life and tree
population, and thus, accelerating the
devastating impacts of desertification and
global warming.
The unguarded activities of poachers in
our forest may not be unconnected with
the reported growing rate of extinction of
some animal and tree species.
The disappearance of such animal and
plant species from our forests, according
to our respondents, is a day light robbery
to Deltans, as handful and faceless individuals,
violate the forest in their quest
to enrich themselves.
While other states, especially, state like
Cross River State, within the same Niger
Delta region with Delta State, noted one
of our respondents, Mr. David Ijeh, can
protect and preserve its forest, turning it
Seeds from these trees again will be used
for reforestation projects all over Nigeria.
Mr Peacock and his team said they are
hopeful that through reforestation and
education, the rate of deforestation in
Nigeria in particular and Africa in general
“will be significantly reduced.”
Preserving Nigeria’s surviving tropical
forests and planting new trees to replace
those lost to deforestation “offers great
benefits,” according to researchers, both
to the climate and to agriculture.
Scientists from the IITA held that reforestation
and forest conservation “could
help reduce the severity of climate change
by absorbing more carbon from the air, and
ease the local impact of climate change by
regulating local weather conditions.” They
also cite the forests’ roles as watersheds,
defences against soil erosion and conservation
pools for biodiversity.
“But reforestation and education on the
benefits of conservation are critical to
stemming and reclaiming Africa’s lost forest
and biodiversity,” says Dr John Peacock,
a senior scientist at IITA.
At IITA headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria,
scientists for a long time have been engaged
in tree-planting, both for research
and for environmental reasons.
The renewed effort in planting of trees
comes at a time when deforestation rate in
Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation –
has reached an alarming rate of 3.5 percent
per year, translating to a loss of 350,000-
400,000 hectares of forest per year.
into gold mine, through ‘Tourism,’ ‘‘while
poachers,’’ he said, ‘‘enjoy field day in our
rich forests.’’
Another respondent, Mrs. Rita Ojore
added, ‘‘today, some popular economic
trees and tourism- boosting animals
have disappeared from our large forests,
across the state, to the infamous activities
of poachers and loggers.’’
However, Trees, such as the iroko (milicia
excelsa) tree, a large hardwood tree
from west coast of tropical Africa, mostly
The primary causes of acid rain are emissions of sulphur
dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which combine
with atmospheric moisture to form sulfuric acid and nitric
acid, respectively.
In one of the scientific study carried out with water
sample collected and filtered, using digital PH meter
from Warri, Port Harcourt and Awka by Mr. Nduka J.K,
Mr. Orisakwe O.E and Mr. Ezenweka Ezenwa show (that
the PH values for two years under study) that rainfall in
Warri was more acidic than Port Harcourt.
Oil exploration and others anthropogenic sources may
be responsible for the acid rain in Niger Delta region of
Nigeria.
In one of his researches, Mr. Onofeghara said that Niger
Delta could lose over 15,000 square kilometers of land by
the year 2100 with a one meter rise in sea level.

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