The mangrove forests of Nigeria are the third largest in Africa. In Nigeria, mangroves and associated mangrove species are used for charcoal, firewood, poles for building and flooring of houses, foundation piling, scaffolding, fishing stakes etc. The help guard against coastline erosion, storm damage and wave action. The also act as buffer and catch alluvial materials, thus stabilizing land elevation by sediment accretion that balances sediment loss.
In recent times, the mangrove forests of Nigeria’s States have become highly degraded and depleted, thus, limiting the ability of the vegetation to fulfill it numerous functions. This vital resource has come under severe pressure from fishing and farming communities living in the coastal areas. The mangrove ecosystems are exposed to threats of destruction arising from urban development, coastal erosion and Nypa palm invasion. The displacement of the mangroves by Nypa palm, especially in Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, has been identified by various experts as a major threat to the mangrove ecosystem and an ecological disaster deserving urgent attention. Although, Nypa palms enjoys a competitive advantage in colonizing abandoned clearings in the mangrove swamps, various reports have suggested that the overexploitation of mangrove trees coupled with the extremely low utilization of Nypa palm are anthropogenic factor responsible for the rapid Nypa palm spread in the Niger Delta area.
- Population growth: Increase of population leads to need for more housing units.
- Economic growth cause the use of mangrove lands for various purposes such as construction of roads, ports and harbors, industries, urbanizations, etc
- Higher short-term benefits: use of mangrove lands, especially for the production of fish and prawns, fetching higher monetary gains over a short period led to the conversion of mangrove areas to fish ponds.
- Lack of government attention and overall awareness.
- Unemployment and/ or under-employment.
- Lack of/inefficient regulation: Government regulations with respect to mangrove lands are often either too complicated or inadequate to ensure the required conservation, leading to illegal encroachment of many lands all over the world.
- Lack of coastal zone management plans incorporating the details of mangrove management.
The objective of the project is to develop and implement the restoration and conjunctive sustainable management of native mangrove and Nypa palm control through sustainable utilization for food and non-food purposes at selected sites in Nigeria which is to be sustained long after the project duration through carefully planned community buy-in, involvement and participation.