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There is a price to pay for every wetland reclamation and conversion: Experiences from Port Harcourt Municipality


MOJ Ecology & Environmental Sciences
Brown Ibama Dapa, Idaminabo Nengi

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Abstract

Port Harcourt municipality has a variety of wetlands that contribute valuable ecosystem services to people, the natural species habitat, and tourist attraction. Wetlands are nourishing and important breeding zones for wildlife and provide protection and safe spaces for sea creatures. Typical of any natural habitat, wetlands are significant in supporting species diversity in addition to providing some climate restraining component. This study aimed at highlighting the price residents and government alike pay for the reclamation and conversion of wetlands. Achieving this was to ascertain the physical environmental challenges experienced by wetland dwellers within Port Harcourt municipality and proffer appropriate mitigation measures associated with the challenges of urbanization and wetland conversion. Three (3) settlements were purposively chosen out of the 41 identified wetland settlements in Port Harcourt municipality. A total of 293 questionnaires were distributed and SPSS was used to analyze the data. Also, satellite imageries of the study areas were obtained from Google earth, delineated. ERDAS imagine 2014 version was used to show spatial changes between the years 1986 to 2000, and 2000 to 2016. The study shows that from 1986 to 2000, Port Harcourt municipality lost a total of 1,255,500m2. This translates to a 5% loss with an average rate of 89,678.57m2 per annum. Between 2000 and 2016, the rate of loss was 108,956.25m2 per annum, and approximately 7.69% of wetlands totaling 1,743,300m2 were lost to urbanization. The result indicates that some of the prices associated with physical environmental challenges include flooding, poor sanitary condition; poor refuse disposal system, and unplanned settlements leading to a decline in the urban quality of life. Also, some mitigation measures include the provision of affordable land, rehabilitation of failed drainage system. The study recommends periodic mapping of all wetlands and an effective development control framework to monitor incursions into existing wetlands.

Keywords

Biodiversity, Conversion, Port Harcourt municipality, Price, Reclamation, Wetlands

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