The Niger Delta in Southsouth Nigeria is to the country, the goose that lays the golden egg, as it hosts the crude oil that for decades remains the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Sadly, years of exploration and exploitation of crude oil in the Niger Delta by international oil companies has left the region as among the most filthy and degraded areas in the world.
But amidst the oddities, the region has an interesting success story. This is the Finima Nature Park which boasts of being home to a varieties of biodiversities. Finima Nature Park, FNP, located on the Bonny Island, Rivers State was established in 1999 and is approximately 35 km southeast from the State capital, Port Harcourt.
Covering an estimated area of about 1000ha , the park evolved from a consensus between the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited and the Finima communities, to protect the forests for its integrity and biodiversity.
On the 11th and 12th October 2019, Bonny Island hosted hundreds of conservators, nature enthusiasts , government officials and academics who came to witness the 20 years existence of the FNP. Among the dignitaries at the colourful event were Prof. Edem Eniang of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; Dr. Joseph Onoja, Director Technical Programmes of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation; Dr. Chidi Ikocha, Head of Environmental Affairs and Prof. Sodienye Abere, Chairman of Bonny Environmental Consultant Committee. Others were Mr. Inye Allwell-Brown; Mr. Bara Kabaka and Mr. Freddy Ndigbara, Director of Culture, Rivers State Ministry Culture and Tourism.
High point of the event was the unveiling of an iconic hippopotamus to educate and remind the public of the need to protect the nation’s rich biodiversity.
The Finima Nature Park has in no small measure contributed to the nation’s tourism industry, just as it is playing huge role in enabling the country meet some of the key targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
For instance, the reserve is believed to host some wildlife species of high conservation value. This makes it a destination choice for tourists and fun seekers both locally and internationally.
It has for years been a research ground for scholars. Also, it has continued to serve the purpose of field trip and excursion by pupils, students and other interest groups.
Its usefulness in fighting climate change has remained a talking point among analysts and environmental enthusiasts and conservators.
A document shared by the NCF, highlights the relevance of forests, with particular attention to the FNP in addressing all forms of environmental disasters.
“The reserve area covers the rain forest and mangrove swamps, as well as an ecologically important area of sandy soil with fresh water ponds and tall timber between the swamps and the beach. The reserve is home to some wildlife species of high conservation value, bird species , a variety of mammals e.g hippopotamus, Mona monkey and reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes and monitor lizards.
“Finima Nature Park is home to a number of species classified by International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable or critically endangered”.
“Forest contain one of the largest carbon pools and have a significant function in the global carbon cycle”, says the release.