The Global Biodiversity Information Facility – Biodiversity Information for Development (GBIF-BID) project team on Implementation of the Biodiversity Information and Data System for Coastal Ecosystems in Nigeria held a 1-day Strategic Policy Dialogue and Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on March 21, 2023 at SHETSCO, Abuja.
The meeting which was for a project titled: “Implementation of the biodiversity information and data system for coastal ecosystems in Nigeria” had in attendance project partners and relevant stakeholders in government policy formulation from the Ministries’, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including Federal Ministry of Environment; Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to mention a few.
The Project Principal Investigator and immediate past University of Lagos Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, while presenting the status and findings from the project noted that the project enabled capacity building in biodiversity data mobilization, publication and management with 158 participants trained from institutions across the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Similarly, he revealed that the project has enhanced the mobilization of about 30,000 biodiversity data including approximately 25,000 occurrence data and 5,000 checklist datasets. Of these, 18,000 higher plants, 4,000 animals, 6,000 planktons and about 2,000 other species (fungi, protozoans, and cyanobacteria) were recorded from coastal ecosystems in Nigeria.
He noted that according to IUCN red listing of the species recorded, a total of 7 animal species, belonging to the genus Cercopithecus commonly known as the blue monkeys are Extinct, 1 plant species, Okoubaka aubrevillei, is Extinct in the wild, 23 species are Critically Endangered, 148 species are Endangered (including Milicia excela, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Hymenocardia acida, Kigelia africana etc), 231 species are Vulnerable, 439 species are Near Threatened, 8,301 are Least Concerned, 112 are Data Deficient while 11, 887 species are Not Evaluated.
Prof. Ogundipe also disclosed that the highest number of Vulnerable and Near Threatened species was recorded in south-south region of the Nigerian coast and they are largely plant species. On the other hand, the largest number of Endangered species was recorded in the south western coast. This, he mentioned, could be as a result of its wide use in ethnomedicine. The mobilized data and red listing information provided was expected to inform policymakers and aid concerted efforts to protect coastal biodiversity.
The DG/CEO, Prof P.C. Onyenekwe, represented by the Director PRS of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex, welcomed stakeholders to the meeting. Also present was the GBIF Node for Nigeria, Prof. Omokafe Ugbogu who, while appreciating the funding agency and partners, showered encomia on Prof. Ogundipe for the commitment and successful completion of the project despite the challenges faced. She further applauded the University of Lagos for being the highest grant holding institution from GBIF in Nigeria and for the doggedness in ensuring that all the projects successfully delivered on the outputs projected.
The meeting also featured a policy dialogue which was coordinated by Dr. Andrew Iloh of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Abuja and Mrs. Ann Kolawole of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment. Several strategic policy outcomes were reached, including: the need to have the data generated from the project shared among agencies in other to effect policy implementations; and the usage of data generated at both inter- and extra-collaborative procedures by MDAs; to mention a few.
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) project was funded through the National-Level biodiversity data mobilization grants by the European Union. The project established agreements on data sharing and exchange with the Nigerian biodiversity clearing house set up between relevant biodiversity-related organizations and stakeholders. The project is a partnership between the TETFund Centre for Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Management, University of Lagos and University of Benin, University of Calabar, Niger Delta University, Forestry Research Institute, Sheda Science and Technology Complex and the Lagos State Ministry of Environment.