– EPA’s Jallah says
Liberia’s wetlands, especially those lying around coastal urban areas, are threatened by growing population pressure and human activity.
Urban wetlands are essential to making cities livable and also contribute to improving water quality and green spaces in cities, John K. Jallah, Jr., Environmental Protection Agency assistant manager in the Environmental Research and Standards Department, has said.
Jallah made the assertion over the weekend in Monrovia during World Wetlands Day, held under the theme: “Save The Wetlands, Save The Future,” which was marked by a cleaning campaign in the Slipway community, an indoor program, and a proclamation.
He said wetlands offer many benefits to human communities: they help to promote human well being and can be a solution for the impending water crisis in many cities.
According to him, wetlands can also serve as major sources of livelihood by attracting tourists, adding: “Wetlands truly make cities livable when they are considered properly in city planning.”
He, however, noted that all of the above benefits may not be obtained if there is mistreatment of the wetlands through uncontrollable pollution, degradation, and destruction, against which he called for making the cities sustainable.
Jallah stressed the need to work together as community dwellers in restoring and preserving urban wetlands for the betterment of Liberia, saying, “It is important to know the benefits wetlands provide, particularly to urban cities like Monrovia.”
“Wetlands help with flood control, buffers against storm surges and tsunamis; the green vegetation acts as a filter for domestic and industrial waste. Wetlands have immense amounts of ecological value encompassing their ecosystem services (functions), range of biodiversity they possess, and endangered species that are threatened with extinction,” he said.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Liberia has been a member of this convention since November 2, 2003 and is under obligation to undertake provisions stipulated within the convention; one of which is to ensure that all wetlands, particularly its five (5) Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance), are sustainably managed.
Liberia has five wetlands, including Mesurado Wetland, the Lake Piso Wetland in Grand Cape Mount, the Marshall Wetland in Margibi, the Kpatawee Wetland in Bong County, and the Gbedin Wetland in Nimba County.
He added that Liberia has three mangrove species found within the Mesurado wetlands (Rhizophora harrisonii, R mangle, and Avicennia Africana) which provide a favorable habitat and feeding grounds for several species of birds and as breeding grounds for the fish we eat.
Jallah said that wetlands further play an important role in shoreline stabilization and sediment trapping.
Benetta W. Gogbar, Human Resource manager for EPA, said she was delighted to see the level of excitement associated with this year’s World Wetland Day and its activities, including the cleaning up campaign.
Gogbar lauded partner organizations, including Conservation International, Monrovia Breweries Incorporated, and Monrovia City Corporation for the level of cordiality over the years.
Professor Jerome Nyenka, former executive director for EPA, praised the management for the level of work at the institution and called on the new government to give priority to the entity.
“There is a need for us to pay serious attention to the issue of sanitation, and I’m delighted that the Weah led government has spoken about it. Despite the meager resources provided to the EPA, we continue to see their performance across the country,” Professor Nyenka said.