Lekki Conservation Centre: Success story of forest regeneration

Lekki Conservation CentreThe typical environment in Lagos is a concrete jungle of high-rise buildings, “face-me-I-face-you” buildings, shanties, and factories jampacked in similar manner to the vehicles on Lagos roads during the usual traffic gridlocks all over the state. Where in Lagos can you now find natural habitat with a mangrove, having trees up to 20 metres high, colonies of Moana monkeys, monitor lizards, and biodiversity of species worthy of research work? The Lekki Conservation Centre is the place, a unique example of an oil company working for the conservation of the environment.

Everyday, visitors, both locals and foreigners, come to the Lekki Conservation Centre to see what Lekki in its pristine state, would look like.

Last Friday, it was the turn of a team of journalists from the Chevron-sponsored Advanced Writing and Reporting Skills programme at the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos to visit.

They were thrilled to see mammals and reptiles living unrestricted within the centre.

Chevron has, for over a decade, supported the Lekki Conservation Centre which is run day to day by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF).

Project Manager at the centre Adedayo Mahmud, told the visiting journalists that “In 1990, this was practical grassland.”

He said that in 2000, the forest regeneration had begun, and a decade later, the forest cover had started closing up.

“That is why I described the vegetation on this fringe as a maturing secondary forest. It is not primary. What was there as primary has been degraded. But the power of forests is in their ability to regenerate if you leave them undisturbed. Lekki Conservation Nature Reserve is a classic example of forest regeneration at work,” Mahmud added.

Speaking on how the centre has impacted on climate change, he said, “If you talk about climate change, the amount of carbon we are sequestering here at Lekki Conservation Centre is unquantifiable. That is why the air you breathe around here is not what obtains on the street there. The air around here is clean and fresh and we are proud of that.”

The NCF official commended Chevron for its support to the centre over the years. He added that NCF is not only running the centre, but is also involved in sensitisation and supported academic research in the field of environment.

Chevron’s Ibe Ojo, who accompanied the team of journalists, spoke on his company’s efforts to sustain the environment in its operations.

“We know there is high level of bunkering, illegal refining. We are creating awareness for people to know that they are endangering the environment through these activities.

“In Chevron, whatever we do, we want to leave that place as we met it. That’s why we do a lot of mangrove restoration. Our policy is that we don’t want to impact the environment as such; we are very careful. That is why you hardly hear that we had a spill. Any spill we have is mainly from sabotage. So, we want people in that area to stop pipeline vandalism,” he said.

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