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Land and Resources, Environmental Issues

Niger River Delta, Ken Saro-Wiwa, World Heritage Convention, FEPA, Lake Chad Basin

Desertification is a major problem in Nigeria, made worse by massive water impoundment and irrigation schemes. Uncontrolled grazing and livestock migration put tremendous pressure on the environment in some areas. Other environmental threats include poaching and settlement within protected areas, brushfires, increasing demand for fuelwood and timber, road expansion, and oil extraction activities.

Nigeria has an organized system of nature preserves, game reserves, and national parks in addition to a forest management system, but most management is carried on at the state level. Law enforcement and protected system infrastructure are lacking, and abuses of protected land are common.

Several Nigerian groups have campaigned actively, but with little success, to compel the government and major oil companies to introduce environmental safeguards. In 1988 the government created the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) to address problems of desertification, oil pollution, and land degradation, but the FEPA has had only a minor impact. In 1995 the weak and fragmented environmental movement was dealt a sharp blow when the government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known writer who struggled to stop environmental degradation in the Niger River Delta. In other parts of the country, farmers have practiced environmental protection for centuries. Their techniques include planting several different crops in a single field at once to cover the ground more evenly and thereby reduce erosion and increase fertility; planting and maintaining farmland trees and hedgerows to reduce erosion; applying manure to farmland to maintain soil fertility; and, in certain areas such as the Jos Plateau, terracing steep slopes.

Nigeria is party to the World Heritage Convention, although no sites have been recognized. One biosphere reserve has been designated under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program. Nigeria has ratified international agreements concerning biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, hazardous wastes, law of the sea, marine dumping, marine life conservation, nuclear test ban, ozone layer protection, and whaling. Regionally, Nigeria cooperates with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger in the joint management of wildlife in the Lake Chad Basin. The country also participates in the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Article key phrases:

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