UNDP to support the conservation of Onura forest in Eleme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has confirmed plans to support the conservation of biodiversity of Onura Forest in Eleme, Rivers State.

The Project Coordinator of the UNDP funded Niger Delta Biodiversity Programme (NDBP), Matthew Dore, made this known during a meeting with the Emperor of Alesa Eleme, John Nkpe.

Eleme, the second largest city in Rivers state, plays host to Nigeria’s first refinery and prides itself as the bedrock of the Nigerian economy. The refinery features a never ending gas flaring. Adjoining this refinery is the Onura forest, which hosts one the oldest deities of the Eleme thereby making it a sacred forest along with the rich biodiversity it bears.

As an oil city, Eleme struggles to live up to its industrial aspirations without paying much regard to the environment. The emperor of Alesa Eleme is now is seeking global partners to halt the encroachment of Onura forest.

The Emperor explained that forest has and important role to play in the balancing the atmospheric conditions in the community. “The crisis of climate change and depletion ozone layer as a result of human activities has made the need for environmental protection from forests more imperative in today’s world,” he said.

“Nature has its role, and human activities are distorting nature and nature is fighting back, therefore to strike a balance, we must ensure that our forests are reserved not just for that but also to enable the survival of our tradition and culture” the king added.

The presence of a commercial bank building on the edge of the forest reveals the extent of city encroachment on the forest that hosts diverse species of endangered turtles, some of which sometimes crawl out on the main road.

The forest also serves as a home to various animals such as chimpanzees, crocodiles, pythons, monkeys, alligators most of which have disappeared, hence the call for the conservation of Onura Forest.

Augustina is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Lagos Nigeria. In the last seven years, she has reported on maritime, politics, environment, climate change, community, and sustainable development. She is currently studying Science [journalism] at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Listen to some of her rural reports: https://audioboom.com/Teenaija-News