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The boom, the blunder and the brunt of Wetlands conversion and urbanisation in Port Harcourt Municipality

International Journal of Hydrology
Brown Ibama,1 Dapa Idaminabo Nengi2

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Port Harcourt municipality as a developing city has over the years been inundated with rapid urbanisation and continuous city expansion. This development has led to an increasing demand for more land to cope with such pace of transformation. Land as a natural resource is finite, yet the demand for more land is unlimited. Based on this increasing demand for land for infrastructural, commercial, residential, institutional and industrial services, government, individuals and communities alike have resort to the reclamation and conversion of available wetlands within the Port Harcourt municipality. This study sets out to identify the boom, the blunder and the brunt of wetlands reclamation and conversion within Port Harcourt Municipality; with specific objectives to ascertain the nature of spatial expansion within the wetland areas in Port Harcourt municipality; identify the extent to which urban growth has affected land use in the wetland areas within Port Harcourt municipality; and to establish the boom, blunder and the brunt of wetland depletion and conversion for urban land uses within the Port Harcourt municipality. The study adopts a quasi-experimental research design, it involves the gathering of retrospective data from various sources without the manipulation of the data sources. Sampling technique was multi-stage; listing of all forty-one wetland settlements; three settlements were purposively selected for ease of access and growing insecurity. Satellite images of the study sites were obtained from Google earth, delineated and gridlines were superimposed on the images. A time series analysis using ERDAS imagine 2014 version, was used to show spatial changes between the years 1986 to 2000, and 2000 to 2016, a time period spanning thirty years. The study indicates that from 1986 to 2000, Port Harcourt municipality lost a total of 1,255,500 m2, this translates to a 5% loss. This loss occurs at an average rate of 89,678.57m2 per annum. From 2000 to 2016, the rate of loss was 108,956.25m2 per annum, and approximately 7.69% of wetlands totalling 1,743,300m2 was lost to urbanisation. Improved urban services, economic prosperity, increased revenue represents some of the boom. Unnecessary incursion into the wetlands by groups, depletion of habitat for flora and fauna species, development of unplanned settlements is some of the blunders and declining urban quality of life, massive urban flooding, pressure on existing urban services, depletion of the already lean state resources are the brunt. Some recommendations include; conduct periodic geospatial mapping of wetlands to enable the listing of identified wetlands and identify existing species of flora and fauna for conservation, tourism development and preservation; there should be a strengthened development control framework to guide and encourage professionally trained and equipped manpower to manage wetlands and ensure acceptable best practices.


boom, brunt, blunder, municipality, port Harcourt, urbanisation, wetlands