Niger Delta Mangrove Project

This project is about restoration and sustainable management of the Niger Delta mangroves. The Niger Delta is located in the Atlantic coast of Southern Nigeria.The site falls under the Niger Delta wetlands region of Nigeria, Considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The mangrove swamp of Niger Delta covers an area of about 1,900km2 and is considered a global biodiversity hotspot. The Niger Delta basin occupies the Gulf of Guinea continental margin in equatorial West Africa, between latitudes 3° and 6° N and longitudes 5° and 8° E. (
Niger Delta mangroves together with the creeks and rivers are a major source of food and livelihood for about 30 million people, which represents more than 17% of Nigeria's population. Other ecosystem services provided by this unique environment are flood control, ground water re-fill, reservoir of biodiversity, fuel wood, cultural values etc. This ecosystem also plays important role in climate change mitigation because of its high blue carbon sequestration potential. This is particularly important because of continuous gas flaring in Niger Delta from petroleum operations, which releases carbon dioxide among other gases into the atmosphere. Mangroves constitute important nurseries for fishes, crustaceans, sponges, algae and other invertebrates, and also acts as a sink, retaining pollutants from contaminated tidal water. Mangroves are also used as shelter and breeding grounds by small mammals, shore birds, reptiles, and insects. This wetland is potentially a good site for ecotourism and also qualifies to be a world heritage site and Ramsar. Unfortunately, this unique ecosystem is on the decline and at the verge of been totally lost. Mangrove forests are converted to farmlands and the trees are cut for timber,fuel, house construction and so on. Consequently, many coastal communities in the Niger Delta are losing their lives and primary livelihoods due to increased vulnerability to floods as a result of the disappearance of mangroves which usually serve as defense in times of coastal flooding. They are also now exposed to the high intensity of sunlight and heat waves as the land lay bare of trees to regulate sun rays. Therefore, there is urgent need to restore/conserve the mangroves of the Niger Delta region. But to achieve successful mangrove conservation, there is need to take into consideration community livelihood perspective. The project will promote agro livelihoods enterprises that are eco friendly like grasscutter farming, bee farming and snail farming.Initially it will be piloted in the Stubb Creek (Mangrove) Forest Reserve that is highly degraded cutting across four communities namley: Eket,Esit Eket, Onna, Mbo .
On successful implement,it will be upscale (expanding it to other mangrove communities within the region) .The project proposes planting back about 100,000 stands of mangroves at degraded spots, in the next 2-3 years.It has four important components: (i) Conservation awareness/education ; (ii) Mangrove restoration /management (iii) Introduction of livelihoods alternatives among pro poor/commercial mangrove harvesters in Eco friendly enterprises:bee farming,snail farming, grasscutter farming (iv)Promoting adoption of fuel efficient biomass cookstoves.Here a video link on mangroves with which can help one learn more about mangroves:
The Niger Delta mangroves perform all four categories of ecosystem services identified in the Millennium Ecosystem Services report: regulating, provisioning, cultural, and supporting services. These include atmospheric and climate regulation, flood and erosion control, wood and forest crops for cooking fuel, construction, and traditional medicine, nutrient cycling, and habitat for fish nurseries.. The area conserves significant cultural as well as aesthetic value, with many sacred sites for indigenous communities dotted around the landscape. The project will develop local capacity in sustainable utilization of mangrove resources, sustainable farming practices and will introduce them to agro livelihood alternatives, with some pro poor locals gaining skills/support in bee farming and snail farming for commercial harvesting. In addition, to restoring the degraded mangrove forest, it is expected to lead to an increase in the numbers of juvenile crabs, fish, shrimps, periwinkles, turtles, etc. as their habitat is improved for their survival, thus protecting and sustaining an important food and crop source for the communities.Sustainable resource use will ensure continuous availability of timber and non-timber products.The timber products are used by the furniture and building industry, while non-timber forest products (NTFPs) include medicinal herbs and pharmaceutical products used locally to treat certain ailments.Other NTFPs like tannin, dyes,gum, resin, ropes,wild fruits, and leaves can be collected by the marginal forest-dependent people to sell in the local markets .

The project is in line with the “Poverty Reduction Strategy” which supports improving local resource management as a key element of poverty reduction. It is also in line with the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) ratified in Nigeria in 1994 ; the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Protection in the Western Hemisphere; Agenda 21; the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. It is also consistent with aims and objectives of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). It is also in line with UNIDO and Niger Delta Biodiversity Bio-diversity Programme recommendations for mangrove conservation within the region.

The project activities are all line with the aims and objectives of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) which are:
• To improve methods and technologies that support the sustainable use of biological resources and eliminate or minimize adverse impacts on biodiversity resulting from resource use;
• To promote sustainable use of biological resources and ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits for poverty reduction;
• To reduce the adverse impacts of land use practices on forest, watersheds, soils, other ecosystems and species;
• To enhance biodiversity management capability through education and awareness, appropriate formulation of policy and legislation, research and international cooperation.

The pilot will help strengthen local communities and livelihoods:
• Education programmes and outreach to increase knowledge of mangrove conservation (targeting up to 10,000)
• Trainings to improve skills in sustainable mangrove ecosystem management (targeting about 1000 wood/timber harvesters, farmers, fishermen)
• Indirect employment opportunities (targeting about 5000 returning fishermen and 3000 women for the collection of aquatic produce – fish, crabs, shrimps,oysters etc – to increase food security and economic resilience.
Project partners/collaborations :
-State Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation (government): provide technical assistance/expertise in mangrove restoration/management .
--Passion for Nature (PfN),an NGO: will assist in community mangrove education;
-Youth Initiative on Environment Local Development (YIELD), a youth led environmental NGO, will assist in planting the mangroves and mobilizing local youths to participate (as volunteers) in the project.
-Society for Women and Vulnerable Group Empowerment (SWOVUGE), an NGO will advocate and mobilize for women participation.
-Foundation for Conservation of Environment and Nature (FOCEM),an NGO- Will assist in community mangrove education;
-Sustainable Livelihood for All: Livelihoods, an NGO –will assist in developing livelihood projects (agro based enterprises).
Expected results:
-Increased community awareness on mangrove roles: Community members recognize the value of mangroves and the linkage between mangrove conservation and community livelihood.
-Increased community knowledge on mangrove conservation needs (ecological needs, economic needs, socio –cultural needs) and sustainable harvesting practices.
-Degraded mangrove sites restored and sustainable managed; ensuring protective habitat for many coastal species.
-Remarkable (80%) reduction in commercial harvesting of timber/fire wood as a result of introduction of livelihoods alternative among key mangrove dependents (in bee/snail farming).

  • Increased in number of juvenile crabs, fish, shrimps, snails, periwinkles, turtles etc as their habitat (mangrove) is improved for their survival, thus protecting and sustaining an important food source for coastal communities.
  • Reduced coastal erosion/flood; Mangrove vegetation helps in protecting coastlines against wave damage during storms.
    -Reduced deforestation and carbon emission rate with adoption of fuel efficient biomass stoves

Assessment measures
-Interviews with the community people;-Quarterly interactive meeting with the local people for feedbacks; Use of Pre and post-test method; pre and post project surveys.
-Community engagement: The project will facilitate community-based participatory monitoring approach to enhance transparency and accountability: Some youth will be trained in simple monitoring and evaluation (simple data collection, comparing/analysis and documentation methods) and will be requested to conduct independent project monitoring and evaluation, making presentation during meetings. The project will engage monitoring tools such as: Community Score Card (CSC); Participatory Statistics; Social mapping; Regular project site/farm visits to observation new changes.
-External evaluators. The project will also contract external evaluators for independent evaluation.

On successful implemenetation, the project would be upscaled,expanded to other mangrove communities within the region.